The exhibition highlights the role of the photobook in contemporary visual culture and takes it as the departure point for a reinterpretation of the history of photography. Nine curators with years of expertise in the forefront of the photobook movement share their respective visions in a joint exhibition at the CCCB and at Fundació Foto Colectania.
Publications illustrated with photographs, also known as photography books or simply photobooks, have grown in popularity in recent years and now occupy a central place in contemporary photography.
The exhibition runs simultaneously at the CCCB and at Fundació Foto Colectania, tracing the history of the photobook from its origins to contemporary production. It does so through the eyes of nine international curators who are experts in the field: Gerry Badger, Horacio Fernández, Ryuichi Kaneko, Erik Kessels, Martin Parr, Markus Schaden, Frederic Lezmi, Irene de Mendoza and Moritz Neumüller, who is the executive curator of the overall project.
The book is the natural home for photography.
Gerry Badger, photographer and curator
Recent years have seen a period of great expansion for photobooks, which now occupy a central position in contemporary photography. Today, more books are produced than ever; they are bought and sold, swapped and collected. Independent or self-publishing of books and zines has become a high impact phenomenon in both the editorial and the artistic sector, and now, at the peak of the digital era, we are seeing a return to the printed object. For many artists, this format is not just a useful means for showing their photographs, but also the perfect space for experimentation and creativity. Added to these factors there is also a growing interest in reinterpreting the history of photography in terms of the historic role of the photobook and printed photographs, as shown by ambitious studies and projects conducted worldwide.
Also taking part in the exhibition are various contemporary artists who bring their own very special vision to the medium, as well as illustrating the processes of creation of a photobook: Laia Abril, Julián Barón, Alejandro Cartagena, Jana Romanova, Vivianne Sassen, Thomas Sauvin and Katja Stuke & Oliver Sieber.
A photobook is a story in images.
Turning its pages is like watching a film or reading a novel.
Horacio Fernández, photographer and curator
An exhibition with over 500 photobooks
Among its many contents, Photobook Phenomenon ranges from the works of Rodchenko, William Klein and Robert Frank to Japanese photobooks, pioneers in the phenomenon. Photographer Martin Parr presents the best examples from his own private collection. A section dedicated to photobooks of protest and propaganda brings together the most radical designs. Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Gabriel Cualladó and Henri Cartier-Bresson are other names present in the exhibition, along with the latest proposals by renowned contemporary artists who bring their own very special vision to the medium, such as Laia Abril and Vivian Sassen, as well as illustrating the processes of creation of a photobook.
We are seeing a marked return to the printed object.
Moritz Neumüller, executive curator of the exhibition
The challenge of displaying photobooks
Photobook Phenomenon also addresses the challenge of exhibiting a photobook, using various interactive systems to explore and “experience” the book and the photograph from very differing viewpoints.
The show sets out to bring the photobook to a broad public; to do so, it has recourse to various digital devices and technologies, such as video and touch screens, along with reading areas and a series of parallel activities related to the communities associated with the world of the photobook.
Photobook Phenomenon is divided into seven thematic sections that dialogue with each other to give us an idea of what a photobook is, from very differing perspectives. Six of the sections (plus the reading space at Beta Station) are located at the CCCB and the seventh one at Foto Colectania (Passeig Picasso, 14, Barcelona). They can be visited independently or jointly, without changing the meaning of the show.
The exhibition is organized in seven exhibition chapters and one reading space in the Beta Station of the CCCB:
- The Collector’s Vision. Martin Parr’s Best Photobooks
- Propaganda books versus protest books
- Reading New York. A PhotoBookStudy on William Klein's “Life is Good & Good for You in New York”
- Five Aspects of Japanese Photobooks
- Contemporary Practices + Contemporary Photobooks (Beta Station)
- Fascinations and Failures
- The library is the museum (displayed at Foto Colectania)
More information on the chapters of the exhibition in the field "Sections".