Here we present a collection of five photobooks that won major awards in 2011. Most are distinctly sociological and serious-minded, examining, variously, a still divided South Africa, the effect of incarceration on prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, the Mafia controlled streets of Naples, and the most dangerous city in the United States. And for even more variety we include the director of one of 2010’s worst reviewed movies (Fred: the Movie, with a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes) playing dress-up for his award-winning photobook.
The judges – Mary McCartney, David Campany and Yuka Yamaji – commented: ‘Goldblatt and Vladislavic’s ambitious project explores the relationship between text and image. A highly effective pairing of fiction and photography, this innovative collaboration redefines the possibilities for writing on and about photography.’
Of David Goldblatt, Claire Guillot in the Guardian said ‘He spent years, largely ignored by the media, exploring the values of South Africa. His beautifully composed, subtle pictures dissect the country’s contradictions, revealing the inner life of a still divided population.’
If the light goes out
CREDIT: Dewi Lewis Publishing
‘When you are suspended by a rope you can recover but every time I see a rope I remember. If the light goes out unexpectedly in a room, I am back in my cell.’
Clark explains on his site that ‘rather than an attempt to monumentalize the historical fact of the Guantanamo camps, these images illustrate three ideas of home: The naval base at Guantanamo which is home to the American community and of which the prison camps are just a part; the complex of camps where the detainees have been held, and the homes, new and old, where the former detainees now find themselves trying to rebuild their lives.’
CREDIT: Clay Weiner. Self-published.
In June, writer and director Clay Weiner won the D&AD Award for Photography for Design for Try-Ons, a chronicle of his attempt to ‘be somebody’ by inhabiting the lives of an eccentric gallery of real and imaginary characters. He explained to the Denver Egotist ‘Growing up, I was always told to be somebody … In an attempt to find myself, I tried 85 personas. I’m still confused.’
Spada explained to Blurb that ‘the book centres on a specific incident: On March 27, 2004, 14-year-old Annalisa Durante was killed in Forcella, a Naples area under the control of the Camorrah … In general, Gomorrah Girl shows the problems of becoming a woman in a dangerous, crime-ridden area. Adolescence is almost denied.’
He explained his intentions to the British Journal of Photography. ‘I needed to be closer to reality, closer to everyday’s life. I was also questioning myself on the motives of photojournalists who travel to a place and ‘coldly’ reports on what he or she sees … I didn’t want to pretend that I was telling other people’s stories, instead, I wanted to portray my own relationships with others’.