Artist Blog

Every week an artist whose single image was published by Der Greif is given a platform in which to blog about contemporary photography.

Queering the Photobook

Dec 14, 2018 - Jessica Buie

Consider the book: a space where content is simultaneously public and private. You may be at risk of a passerby glancing at a page over your shoulder as you read on the bus, but you are mostly protected from exposing what lies between the covers. Books and literature have historically played a large role in subcultures, acting as coded systems of communication between members. The presence of a single book spine among shelves is just as powerful as a visual code of a certain colored handkerchief stuffed in a back pocket. Cruising book spines. 


Contemporary queer artists and photographers are disrupting the traditional logic of bookforms by forgoing stark, narrative-based sequencing. Photo books, at their core, operate through a sequencing of images and sometimes text, but the book form evolves into something new when that logic is subverted. An object in itself that may appear like a photo book, but is something more of a collage in its formal and conceptual structures. 


I find myself frequently returning to two such books in particular: Collier Schorr’s I Blame Jordan and K8 Hardy’s Frank Peter John Dick give a master-class on formal and conceptual collaging in contemporary photography. 



Shorr’s I Blame Jordan is not merely a presentation of images, but an exploration and experiment of the connection between varied sources: editorial photographs of a male model, text from assorted novels, hand-written notes, and clippings from auto catalogs. With the inclusion of (traditionally) non-photographic objects, the book then becomes less about the images inside of it and more about the way in which these images interact with their curated surroundings. A conversation about masculinity, youth, and desire entangled with memory and subjectivity. 

K8 Hardy performs a similar subversion of the book form with her publication Frank Peter John Dick. The book contains a series of collages that were once visual research compositions  never intended to be exhibited. These collages, when placed in book form, become a series of propositions for imagined future works. Because Hardy is known primarily for her sculpture and performance work, each image then becomes an imagined experience different for every viewer upon every viewing. Not that the collages are not final products in and of themselves, but their reason for coming into existence is to propose a further iteration and expansion of their ideas.