No. I’m actually not a buyer of photography books, if I buy an art book it tends to be a catalogue of an exhibition I visited that left a mark on me. I think the photobook has become a trope that is something that ‘you need to do’ as a photographer, alongside doing ‘projects’, another thing I’m not a big fan of, not as a general rule anyway. I think work needs to develop as it comes, and for some people it’ll then turn into a book or it will be shaped within the framework of a project, for others it’ll take on a different form.
I see my ‘works’ as I prefer to call my photographs as solo objects that can be shown in different combinations, not a rigidly fixed order. The reason why I prefer the term ‘works’ over ‘photographs’ is because I do so much work in post-production that the prints are often more akin to painting than photography. I also like the fact that ‘work’ is a verb, it’s something that keeps evolving. Like Pierre Bonnard, who was known for showing up at his own exhibitions paintbrush-in-hand to add more touches to his paintings, I’m someone who reviews and reworks prints, subtly, over time. The way I present work is also dependent on the space it’ll be shown in, so one work can be shown in different ways of framing/non-framing depending on where it is presented.
The main platform I use to show my work on is my website. I had the great luck of meeting Giorgio Del Buono of Systems Studio at a PV of a Guido Guidi exhibition at Large Glass Gallery in London a couple of years ago and he ended up designing my website. We both came up with the randomised way of presenting the Selected sections for Works and Portraits, which ensures the photographs are always shown in a different order whenever the page is reloaded. That way you can see certain links, overlaps and echoes between different photographs crop up by sheer fluke. It gives the work space to breathe and develop further, and it helps you see things you would not have seen otherwise. It fits my work perfectly.
At the time I made Splinter I was still thinking in a much more linear way. These days my approach comes from a constellation perspective, with different elements throwing often contradictory ways of thinking together and no fixed time-frame underpinning it. We don’t live our lives in a linear way, even though we think we do. Our personality is in big part constructed by memories: life is built on our experiences which we try to make sense of in hindsight. Like Kierkegaard said: “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” When we look back, life is not remembered as linear, it’s all bits and fragments that come at us randomly and shape us that way.
As much as I loved working on Splinter, and I was very happy to publish it with Hatje Cantz when Markus Hartmann was still at the helm, a man I have a lot of admiration for, I just can’t see the point of doing a book now. About 4 to 5 years ago when I was considering doing another book, I had a very enlightening conversation with Grégoire Pujade-Lauraine and that was the point that I realised I didn’t want to do another photobook, unless it was a catalogue that came with a substantial exhibition. When I met Giorgio Del Buono a bit later on, things all crystalised into his brilliant design for my website.
Another reason for me not to do books unless it’s really necessary is that I prefer trees as they are, in the woods. The photobook is made from precious material and that is something that often gets forgotten. The more we ensure we only create a book if the work is calling out for it, the more it will be treated with the love and care it deserves.