This month, we’re sharing staff picks from the new @3standardstoppage books at the shop.
TTP by Hayahisa Tomiyasu
As somebody who likes to photograph the same subject over many years and through many of life’s transitions, I naturally gravitated toward the photography book TTP by Hayahisa Tomiyasu. This book simply chronicles one Ping Pong table in a Berlin park over many seasons. Every page is a photograph of that one table from the same angle, observing how it is used for purposes other than its original intention: a class gathering, a baby getting a diaper change, kids sheltering from the rain, an illicit nighttime activity. Page after page, a growing empathy ensues for this passive table’s appropriated use, while the table is also a witness to the richness of life that it attracts. The table symbolizes an anthropological artifact of our collective experience through life. And as with life, in the last image, the table gets removed. This is a complete portrait of one life, and naturally, a satisfying photography book.
La Bête by Yasmina Benabderrahmane
An exploration of displacement through a phenomenological lens, Yasmina Benabderrahmane’s La Bête features photos of the lived, on-the-ground experience of her family in Morocco as well as the earth as its own subject. There are close-ups of hands and feet as well as sand, rocks, and other materialities central to the North African landscape. The hyperfocus on these imagined and embodied “roots” are contrasted by written passages throughout the book describing “The Beast” of modern development, which erects cultural institutional structures “when the immense majority of Moroccans can’t even afford the entrance fee”. If, like me, you are also born to immigrant parents who talk about the homeland that you’ve never been to, consider perusing the ethereally macro photos in this book.
Wild Design / 野生设计 by 黄河山
Wild Design / 野生设计 is a compilation of designs that the author sourced from China’s urban-rural fringe, a place that is often overlooked or deemed as tacky. I appreciate how the book pairs images of unauthorized flyers found on telephone poles and makeshift outdoor furniture with the author/researcher’s handwritten notes, distilling principles of font choice, content creation, profit-making, and information-output underlying these “wild designs”. If you are interested in finding beauty and design in the everyday and would like to dismantle the hierarchy of aesthetics dictated by corporations and art institutions, get this book immediately!!
No Country for Canine by Wu Chuan-Lun
If you appreciated John Berger’s famous essay, “Why Look at Animals?” or Donna Haraway’s observations on human-animal hybrid life, you might find a kindred spirit in artist Wu Chuan-Lun, who unleashes us on a similar journey in No Country for Canine. Essays, for example, explore how the German Shepherd signalled racial purity for Nazis and was Adolf Hitler’s preferred breed. Photographs illustrate the precarious, moldable identity of this descendant of wolves. Given that pet adoptions spiked during the global pandemic, now is an opportune time to re-examine the mysterious ways that master and thing shape each other.
404 Not Found by Li Yang
This very personal photo book has a fascinating story. It’s set in a now-deserted former Chinese nuclear base town in the Gobi desert where the photographer spent the first 19 years of his life. Having always wanted to leave as a kid, he goes back after it’s been largely deserted with a sense of nostalgia for the simplicity and intimacy of that community. The sepia tone photos are strange and beautiful and I also particularly enjoy the rich printing quality.
Art, Engagement, Economy by Caroline Woolard
American artist and organizer Caroline Woolard’s Art, Engagement, Economy is a transparent reflection that lifts the veil on the inner workings of Woolard’s practice, from budgets, to fabrication, and correspondences. Caroline encourages a consideration of exchange in all aspects of making.