Category Archives: DIY

New posts coming

I am obviously behind on this blog. And now I’m more behind: I brought back a pile of books from my trip to Seoul back in November of last year (1, 2, 3). So there’ll be new content here soon.

In particular, I plan to write about Listen to the City’s Protest as I think it presents a number of useful things to think about in the current political climate. A number of the things I wanted to write about have already come to pass–major protests here in the US and considerations of how to maintain political action in order to effectively affect change rather than simply channel anger or disappointment.

And there are some fluffier books that are more fun to talk about.

And a new conversation about considerations when building a library for an academic institution. It’s been conducted, I’ve just got to find time to transcribe it…

Something for everyone.

Good stuff.

B-Cuts, Antic-Ham

Like anyone, I have my predilections. I like highly personal, quirky and modest photobooks. It is not necessary in my opinion that a photobook be a capital “G” Great work of capital “A” work of Art for it to cause a viewer to see the world in a new way or to reconsider her vantage. Sometimes it is a small observation lovingly made and lovingly shared that offers the greatest return.

Several years ago I participated in a workshop run by Jeffrey Ladd and Ken Schles. The two photographers asked each participant to bring a couple of favorite photobooks. My selections were Paul Kooiker‘s Seminar and Ld by Yasushi Cho. Kooiker and Cho’s books are quirky–Cho’s particularly so. Seminar is a modest volume of photographs of one woman’s shoes shot during a seminar. The photographs are obsessive, almost desperate. What at first seems simply a particular detail catching and holding the photographer’s attention slowly builds into a discomfiting misogynistic fetish. The handmade Ld is probably as far as one could push a photobook before it becomes an artists book. The darkly printed photographs of light sources are layered with laser over print. The pages are irregularly shaped and hand sewn into an odd shaped cover. A laser printed acetate sheet forms a kind of dustjacket. I find books like these fascinating because one can see how an idea wends its way through a photographer’s mind.

wpid-wp-1439227697420.jpgAntic-Ham’s B-Cuts has a similarly acute sensibility. It is a small book, only 14 pages, inkjet printed in a limited edition of 169 copies. It is hand sewn and features a cover cut from the book review section of a French newspaper with the title silkscreened atop the text. The photographs within and the design itself connect this book to Franticham’s oeuvre.

The photographs in book are the usually discarded frames lost to light leaks, skewed perspectives, random subjects, double exposures and other technical lapses in the rush to load a roll or in processing the film. In these photographs, the visual frames end and blend haphazardly. Frames are cut off abruptly, jam one against the next or sit one atop the other in double exposures. This can be jarring, though as often as not the compositions feel highly intentional.

wpid-wp-1439227742773.jpgPhotography is a multifaceted process, and there is opportunity for creative discovery throughout it.These photographs are primarily a product of Antic-Ham’s treating the editing with as much reverence as the shooting. As much as one creates photographs by framing the real world, it is in the editing that one makes judgements about if and how a photograph “works”. Sometimes there are diamonds to be found in the rough.

B-Cuts is fun and quirky and offers the viewer an opportunity to reframe their conception of what is a good photograph. In the digital rush attention has been primarily directed toward technical perfection. In this new, cleaner process the opportunistic happenstance represented by the beauty of flawed images has been lost. Antic-Ham reminds us remain open to the beauty found in our castoffs and offcuts throughout the photographic process and throughout life.

Edition of 169

Franticham’s Polaroid Correspondence

Printed Matter’s annual NY Art Book Fair was held at PS1 a couple of weekends ago. It was crowded and noisy. And there were a lot of people there too.

Several weeks before the fair, I noticed on the list of exhibitors one exhibitor from Korea: Antic-ham. I clicked over to the artist’s site–a mix of drawing, collage, printmaking and photography. It is by turns playful, sexy, political and personal. Weaving all of this together is bookmaking. I ordered half a dozen books on the spot, which I enjoyed opening immensely.

At the NYABF, I made a beeline to the Red Fox Press table, which Antic-ham shared with Francis van Meale of Red Fox Press. Together, Francis and Antic-ham are Franticham. They make art as individuals and as a couple. I purchased a couple of their joint books at the fair, of which Franticham’s Polaroid Correspondence was one. It seems like the perfect encapsulation of their relationship and bookmaking. Distance, cross-cultural dialogue, collage, mail art, and Polaroid photography mix with heady emotion.

On the title page of the wire bound volume, the book explains its genesis:

During 6 weeks Francis in Achill Island and Antic-Ham in Seoul exchanged by mail their experiences and feelings with A5 postcards with collage and using Polaroid pictures made with SX-70 cameras and color Silver Shade PX films from the Impossible Project.

Newspaper clippings, packaging, stamps, address labels, drawings and Polaroid prints are collaged together. The Polaroids are captioned with personal notes and dated. These were posted back and forth. They appear to be further collaged in the book making process. They make references to shared experiences in Seoul, hint at a future together in Achill Island and riff on the longing and quotidian realities of the six weeks that lay between the before and the ever after time periods.

Correspondance is a kind of oppositional companion to Oksun Kim’s Happy Together. Kim’s book of photographs of inter-racial Korean/Non-Korean couples is informed by her own inter-racial marriage but maintains a cool detachment through an anthropological process. It examines these relationships. Franticham’s book, in contrast, is entirely personal. It is messy, raw and emotional. Dada and Fluxus sensibilities are at play throughout. Happy Together feels clinical (or, perhaps, too close to home). Correspondence feels exciting, honest, alive.

The physical book furthers this sensibility. Like Franticham’s and Anticham’s other books, Correspondence doesn’t take itself too seriously. The wire binding, handmade collage front cover and roughly printed pages (color copier?) are loose, loving and playful.

[To be clear, their dedication to their art making and book making is entirely serious. While I would consider their art making to be more termite than white elephant, their large screen printed publications are amazing and beautiful, though unfortunately too rich for my budget. I highly recommend checking out these other books, which include London Palm Trees, Grand Bazaar and New York New York, if the opportunity presents itself.]

Franticham’s Polaroid Correspondence is delightfully earnest and heartfelt. Neither making grand claims nor engaging cosmic truths, it takes the reader on a voyeuristic romp through the couple’s long distance creative embrace. This author, for one, wishes them many productive years together.

Franticham’s Polaroid Correspondence
Franticham (Francis van Meale & Antic-Ham)
Red Fox Press
Edition of 69, numbered and signed