Violentology

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Today Stephen Ferry, a man I often describe as a “legendarily charismatic ICP faculty member*”, stopped by ICP to present the library with his new – remarkable – book titled Violentology.

I have not had time to read it yet, but a perusal of it then with him, and more after the library was locked up for the night, revealed what turns out to be a promising contender for one of the truly great photo books I have seen in ages, even after the photo book super-saturation at the New York Art Book Fair last week.

I will be brief because I want you to have a glimpse of the book before Stephen Ferry lectures and signs copies of it at ICP tomorrow** – next door to the library, so here goes.

A book about Colombia that is well-informed, clear, concise and utilizes the materials and style of mass media tabloid culture in that country, where it was printed on the tabloid presses, on dense newsprint, but with a density of ink that cannot be believed until seen. It recalls the best image and text works that Larry Towell made and also the evocative styling of Gilles Peress’ Telex Iran. It packs a punch like Ferry’s great 1999 book I am Rich Potosi: The Mountain that Eats Men.

It looks like the decade of work that it represents. Richly researched, thoughtful, eminently collaborative and clear, it depicts something that we are all too unaware of…Columbia’s epic Molotov cocktail of global trade and politics .

Sorry for the quick shots of the book made above [check out Time Lightbox, which took more time with it]. As I said, I wanted to get the word to you. Handle a copy. I am now seeing that great photo books are made more by great publishers of great materials and ephemeral ones are being made digitally, as it should be.

Ferry told me that the presses [he oversaw] in Colombia made 9,500 copies – half in Spanish and half in English – and the inks are soy bean-based. The “secret sauce” of the velvety black pages, borders and in the images was three inks. The type was derived from the Colombian tabloid press, as was the format and paper and presses. It really translates beautifully into this book, which is lightweight and beautifully malleable. What is it called? “Great drape!”

If you are in NYC, you will not be disappointed if you see Ferry talk about this masterful work, and if you are not, jump on to the live stream of the lecture. Either way, contact our store, order a signed book, and enjoy something well worth holding and reading!

* I usually recall a weekend workshop he taught during the 2001-2002 school year that, almost literally, went on forever…after the undetected class was locked into the school at closing time, they found their way out through the dark school and repaired to a pub to carry on the exuberant discussion.

** Did you know that you can live stream the lecture tomorrow at 7pm EST from anywhere? Check it out!

Nota bene: Ferry was one of the wiliest and most successful ICP Benefit Booksale customers ever, by the way. He stacked up a truckload of great and reasonably-priced photo books and then negotiated bulk prices [at closing time] for each stack like a pro. Who can resist appreciating a bibliophile of that kind? If you would like to try your hand at that kind of interaction, the next book sale scheduled for mid-February 2013 is the time you are saving up for!

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About Deirdre Donohue

Stephanie Shuman Librarian International Center of Photography Follow on Twitter @icplibrary
This entry was posted in International, New Acquisitions, Seen and heard and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Violentology

  1. Wonderful book. Please correct the spelling of the country in question: Colombia.

  2. Audrea says:

    How do I subscribe to your articles by email? I prefer getting brand new articles delivered directly to my inbox if it is possible; keeps me from needing to
    check over 3 dozen different websites everyday, is
    this possible?

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