Issue 4

This issue of Flash turns to the world of photography and publishing: in print and online; in conjunction with exhibitions; as monograph, artist’s book and history.

Kyla McFarlane

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Donna Bailey, Zoe, 2004, Oculi, Hardy Grant Books, Melbourne, 2010 p.176

Donna Bailey, Zoe, 2004

This issue of Flash turns to the world of photography and publishing: in print and online; in conjunction with exhibitions; as monograph, artist’s book and history.

We were inspired to take this route following some lively discussions on the topic in Australian photographic and visual art circles in 2010. At the close of that year, Anne Marsh’s substantial recent history Look: Contemporary Australian Photography Since 1980 was released, the air of anticipation for which was an indicator of just how much we need such histories and documents to exist.

Lionel Bovier, a curator, writer, editor and head of the Zurich-based art-publishing house JRP|Ringier, visited Brisbane and Sydney that year for two publishing workshops. Bovier came to Australia at the invitation of the IMA and Artspace, supported by the Australia Council’s International Visitors Program. At the workshop I attended in Brisbane, there was much discussion about distribution—and its problems for small publishers. The Hamlet-like question of whether to publish online or not publish online was not the core focus of this conversation, but it has certainly been the question on many lips in Australia and globally in the months since then.

At the 2010 Fotofreo Festival, the biennial photography festival held in Fremantle, as Flash editor I took part in a panel as part of their Incite series of talks and discussions. Discussion in other panels across the festival emphasised the persistence of print, including print on demand and independent publishing, from the Hijacked series published by Big City Press to the Blurb books phenomenon. As Jennifer Phipps and Natalie King’s conversation around King’s Up Close exhibition and book on Carol Jerrems, along with William Yang, Larry Clark and Nan Goldin reveals, the artist’s book has been a significant medium for these artists.

Our panel, ‘The Virtues and Vagaries of Online Publishing’, including Andy Adams from web-based Flak Photo, John Levy from the British-based photojournalism and documentary company Foto 8 and photographic artist Amy Stein, waded into the territory head-on. In my post-forum interview with Adams and Stein, the latter contends that not being online is to somehow not exist—an interesting provocation to ponder for any photographer or artist working today.  Since our conversation, both have continued to inhabit the web and discuss its future and broader implications for photographers and their practice more broadly—most recently in this ‘Photo 2.0 Online Photographic Thinking’ panel, which can be viewed at: http://vimeo.com/32268134

Back in the world of print, M33’s Helen Frajman, who has herself contributed to a mini-boom in Australian art photography publishing with the recent release of a series of artists’ monographs, casts a critical eye over the Oculi documentary collective’s self-titled book, which brings together work by its members, who focus on Australia’s social landscape and the story-telling potential of photography.

Maggie Finch also writes about the extraordinary publication that coincided with Thomas Demand’s exhibition Nationalgalerie—a project that won the artist the Deutche Borse prize, and which has an intriguing image-text relationship.

And in our On Show section, usually reserved for exhibition round-ups, we publish a selection of photography books chosen as particular favourites by a range of contributors including artists, writers and booksellers. This in itself gives us a curious ‘potted history’ of some of the ways photography has developed and expanded through publishing.

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