Marieke ten Wolde's blog

Documentary photography, and other things interesting enough to bother you with

Archive for the ‘Photo books’ Category

the PIGS – the book

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The Pigs_1
Last week I visited Les Rencontre d’Arles, some say the largest photo festival in the world. That could be true, it was certainly bigger than any other photo festival I ever visited. I saw about 50 exhibitions, numerous photo presentations on big and small screens and probably about 1000 photo books.

And 1000 photo books that is, even for me, about 900 too many. I probably missed lots of very interesting and good books, I probably missed the best and most beautiful book (if such a thing even exists), I probably did not even buy the right books. And I flew Ryan Air with the strictest luggage rules in the world, so I was very worried about each extra gram I purchased.

So after 50 books my mind went numb, after 100 books I stopped being interested and after 200 I was bored and had lost all ability to distinguish between bad and brilliant.  Until I noticed a very cheerful guy doing his little song and dance (literally that is) promoting his book/magazine. And luckily it was not just the guy that was different, back home I still think his publication is brilliant or rather brilliantly funny with a sharp edge.

Have a look at The PIGS: a hilarious persiflage of The Economist, but at the same time a magazine that shows the PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain) from a different perspective. I have visited the PIGS many times, I even lived in one for a while and for me the photos portray exactly what I like most in these countries. But although the magazine is very recognizable, we hardly ever see the PIGS like this in any publication.

The photographer is Carlos Spottorno, who btw also made a very nice book ‘China Western’ which I did not even realise when I met him.

Don’t forget to visit the WTF bank if you aspire to live beyond your means. And wouldn’t we all like that?

Written by Marieke ten Wolde

July 15, 2013 at 21:53

2012 Photo book lists

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I buy photo books. No I am not a collector of any kind, I guess I am just greedy. Not in general, just books. But I guess I spend less on books then some woman on shoes, and I am not thinking Imelda Marcos, so I tell myself it is OK.

Now I am very grateful the end of the year has passed, without doing too much damage to my bank account. When all the lists of ‘best 2012 photo books’ appear, I always feel the urge to see what I missed. This year though I did quite well, there were very few end-of-year surprises that I just had to have. Those however are not the ones I want point out, and don’t worry, I will not confront you with my list.

But it made me think, what would be the best photo books for me, what should be the criteria? I think it should be a book that tells a story or conveys an idea, a book that makes me think and triggers the imagination, a book that tells me something new or changes my view, that keeps on surprising me and providing new angles. And most of all it should be a book that inspires me to get my camera out and tell my own (photo)stories.

Well, if those are the criteria, the answer is: this year for me that book wasn’t a photo book and it was not even published in 2012. It is a book with a compilation of Ai Weiwei’s blogs.

Of course there is a connection with photography. For starters I bought the book during Paris Photo at Offprint Paris. I looked at it not only because Ai Weiwei receives a lot of international attention, but also because I saw an exhibition of his US photos in Berlin early 2012.

The blogs in the book were posted between 2006 and 2009 (when his blog was censured and deleted). Many of the blogs in the book are translated in English for the first time. He gives an insight into China, his ideas as a person and artist, he makes me laugh at times and always draws me in. His blogs makes me want to go back there, to understand more about that complex and fascinating country and most of it raises the desire to go back there and take pictures.

And in addition to all that the book also inspires me to keep on writing blogs, so it seemed very appropriate to write about it here.

And now it is 2013. No more looking back, onwards and forwards from now on! Start working on those 2013 lists….

Ai Weiwei’s blog. Writings, Interviews and Digital rants, 2006-2009
ISBN 9780262015219

Ai weiwei blog book

Written by Marieke ten Wolde

January 10, 2013 at 09:00

In the car with M

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Last week I bought Rafal Milachs book: ‘In the car with R’. Yesterday it arrived and yesterday night I had a first peek. I really like the book and I really like the pictures. Which is not a surprise, I liked all Rafal Milachs books so far. This morning I read the book, and that was a surprise. Quite often I do not really like the texts in photo books: often too dry, too boring or too deep and arty, but this rang a bell.

The writer Huldar Breidfjörd travels with the photographer the ring road around Island and has included 29 notes on photography in the book. At the start the writer feels that: ‘traveling with a photographer is a bit like shopping with a girlfriend that wants to look at all the clothes and try everything on – a never-ending drag’. Then he starts wondering where the creative process is in this ‘hunting for images’, like I have asked myself so often.

Huldar Breidfjörd is Icelandic, and Rafal, the photographer, apparently keeps on asking questions to the ‘local’. Questions that might sound simple but are not always easy to answer. I have seen the same desperation that speaks from his text in the faces of my travel companions. Even when I tried to ask the easy things, I felt like a child forever asking ‘why’. In the end he sighs, after answering 300 to 400 questions: ‘traveling around the country with a photographer is not like travelling with your girlfriend. It is like becoming a parent’. That made me smile.

The book also answered a question I have been struggling with for a while. I can travel and photograph with my partner as he likes shopping more than I do, and ‘hunts for images’ almost more fanatically than I do. However, now with the kids it has become impossible. I finally realise why that is: I am quite happy to be a child, finding out about the big strange world, I also enjoy (most of the time) to be a parent explaining about that same big strange world, but both at the same time…

No, my brain simply does not cope with being a parent and a child at the same time.


You can buy the book here:

(The only back-draw of the book is that my son keeps on stealing the red rubber bands…. on the other hand, they went through an extensive stress-test and they are good quality!)

Written by Marieke ten Wolde

March 30, 2012 at 10:08

First Blurb book

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This is a first attempt to a first Blurb book. I am now waiting for the paper version to arrive to decide what needs to be changed. But as I could not wait with finding out how to get a preview posted here, you are now also privy to my first steps in the Blurb world.

the Republic of (the/South) Sudan by Marieke ten Wolde

Written by Marieke ten Wolde

March 27, 2012 at 13:37