This year’s Photo London fair runs from the 16th to the 19th of May and is arguably the UK photography event of the year. Here at Turnaround we are lucky to work with a variety of publishers of photographic books – and we’ve outlined a few of our favourites here.
Flying Houses by Laurent Chéhère
(Kehrer Verlag, 9783868288896, hb, £40, available now)
There’s something deeply unsettling about seeing something so intrinsically grounded as a house floating whimsically in mid-air, pinks and oranges accenting the sky behind them. At first a dilapidated caravan is the bohemian ideal of unencumbered living, but quickly morphs into the ramshackle home of social outcasts once you notice the figures hidden in the doorway. Children hide behind dirty windows, the pink balloons attached to graffitied facades obscuring their faces. Refugees have cordoned off the roof of a building marked ‘hope street’ with hundreds of plastic containers, and a single ‘for sale’ sign hangs ominously off a balcony.
Every seemingly random detail is significant, every house tells a story. Floating Houses is nothing short of a brilliant, photoshopped horror show that plays on our feelings of safety, community, and the home.
The New Londoners by Chris Steele-Perkins
(Dewi Lewis, 9781911306450, hb, £35, available now)
The New Londoners is a love letter to our strange and wonderful city, a celebration of its cultural richness and its incredible diversity. It’s a plea for tolerance and an incredibly welcome breath of fresh air in the current political landscape. Every family photograph is accompanied by a record of how they got here, often revealing heartbreak and struggle. The stories the subjects reveal are intimate and full of life: they’re stories about the city, its people, their family and their friends.
Chronicling 165 families from almost 200 countries, The New Londoners is a timely reminder of the vital role of immigration, its enriching effect on society, and the pivotal role it plays in making London the city it is.
Funland by Rob Ball
(Hoxton Mini Press, 9781910566510, hb, £30, 23/05/2019)
Who doesn’t want to spend a summer drinking warm beer from plastic pint glasses and chucking all their coppers in a slotty? No one, that’s who. If you can’t make it to one of our beautifully tasteless seaside spots right now, Funland will ‘tide’ you over (lol) until you can. A collection of garish, colourful, and frankly stunning photographs showcasing UK seaside scenes, its full of bleak amusement parks, arcades, and novelty shops selling blow-up dolphins and the like. I love this book. It’s nostalgic and familiar and it makes me pine for gritty feet and a freezing summer breeze. Every time I look at it, it puts me in a great mood.
TF at 1: Ten Years of Quartersnacks by Quartersnacks
(PowerHouse, 9781576877869, hb, £24.99, available now)
As I teenager in the 90s I really wanted to be a skateboarder. I wasn’t the worst at it, I could ollie a curb. I tried to get the crotch of my jeans as baggy as possible and spent all my money on too-big skate t-shirts. My skateboarding stage didn’t last forever, but, now in my thirties, I still have a special place in my heart for skateboarders, which is why I like looking at TF at 1. A photographic celebration of Quartersnacks, the website dedicated to skateboard culture in New York, it’s pure escapism. It could do with a few more women skaters in it, but despite this it’s a total pleasure to gaze at.
LGBT San Francisco by Daniel Nicoletta, Gus Van Sant, Chuck Mobley, et al (Reel Art Press, 9781909526396, hb, £40, available now)
This book is a complete wonder. From the Faggots Are Fantastic vest on the cover, to the candid photos of Harvey Milk, to the hot butch dykes in double denim, it makes my heart flutter whenever I look at it. Dedicated to the work of photographer David Nicoletta, it’s a powerful archive of images tracing the LGBTQ scene in San Francisco in the 1970s to the present. It’s a really moving history, and an important tribute to those who fought for our rights.
Launderama by Joshua Blackburn
(Hoxton Mini Press, 9781910566602, hb, £14.95, 24/10/2019)
This one isn’t out until October but I’m including it as a bonus because I find launderettes very pleasing. Something about the fact they always seen frozen in another time, and the typography on the walls, and the smell, is incredibly appealing. It’s a good job I enjoy a launderette because I live on a boat, and for the past three years have spent near-enough every Friday night inside one, drinking beer, talking to old ladies, reading a book, and waiting for my clothes to dry. Launderama is a colourful homage to London’s launderettes. I can’t wait to see it – maybe my one will be in there.
In Between Days by Tom Sheehan
(Flood Gallery, 9781911374138, hb, £26.99, available now)
Goths of the world, rejoice. Your cultural heritage is now available in hardback format. In Between Days collects Tom Sheehan’s photographs of The Cure from over a twenty-year period, and includes some never-before-seen images. Taking in their early tours, classic albums, and of course haircuts, this is an excellent archive and an especially beautiful object.
To Survive on This Shore by Jess T. Dugan and Vanessa Fabbre
(Kehrer Verlag, 9783868288544, hb, £40, 13/06/2019)
How often do we get to see genuine representations of older trans people in our books? What few transgender narratives there are tend to hinge on the hand-wringing moment of coming out – often YA novels with teenage protagonists, they focus on the trouble of fitting in at school, of the reaction from parents and siblings, and (of course) the torture of young love. Not all of them, mind (not to be that guy or anything, but here at Turnaround we have an excellent range of trans-focused adult novels from the likes of Arsenal Pulp Press and Metonymy). Anyway, all this to say that Jess T. Dugan’s To Survive on This Shore, a collection of portraits of and interviews with older trans people, makes my Grinch heart grow four sizes. We do get to grow up, see? There is a future available to you if you are trans, and while it can be difficult, it is often filled with love (and if the portraits here are anything to go by, also some excellent jackets).
Legacy in Stone by Kevin Bubriski
(powerHouse Books, 9781576878897, hb, £41.99, available now)
Photographer Kevin Bubriski was on assignment in Aleppo, Syria seven months after the start of the US war in neighbouring Iraq. In the solitude from other tourists that the combination of Ramadan, the rainy season, and nearby war engendered, he photographed several ancient sites in an area considered to be the longest continuously inhabited place of commerce in the world. After Aleppo he headed to the northern early Christian Dead Cities and many other sites, documenting Syria’s ordinary people and their daily lives, until heading home after Damascus. This would make a beautiful, worthy body of work all on its own (Bubriski’s photographs are works of clear, sunlit, transportive art) – but the fact that many of the places featured have been destroyed in the conflicts that have ravaged Syria since elevates this book to a work of heartbreaking record.
Scala Cinema, 1978-1993 by Jane Giles
(Fab Press, 9781903254981, HB, £75, available now)
This year’s Photo London fair saw the comprehensive, in-depth and beautifully presented Scala Cinema 1978-1993 presented with the Kraszna-Krausz Award for Best Moving Image Book. A moving tribute to a longstanding London institution of influential cinema that closed down 26 years ago, this large-format book contains the complete collection of all 178 monthly programmes plus photographs and ephemera.
Small World by Martin Parr
(Dewi Lewis, 9781911306351, hb, £30, available now)
In 2018 Dewi Lewis relaunched Martin Parr’s classic satirical collection with this revised, extended edition that includes more than 40 new photographs as well as an introduction by Geoff Dyer. The global tourism culture that Parr first satirised in 1996 has become even more intensified in the intervening years with the proliferation of image-focused social media, and Parr’s photographic commentary is perhaps even more relevant in this time of Venetian tourist admission fees, Canadian sunflower fields destroyed by legions in search of the perfect Instagram photo, and the Netherlands’ efforts to reduce its ballooning number of visitors, in part by the removal of the iconic I Amsterdam sculpture. It’s good stuff, and a lot of it is pretty funny too.