Short Cuts 06 presents 4 new photobooks. It starts with Emi Anrakuji and concludes with 404 Not Found.
(1) Emi Anrakuji: Balloon Position (AKAAKA Art Publishing, 2019)
Through Cyclopean gaze, literally the artist’s vision, impaired by suffering a brain tumour, attempts to reconstruct the shattered self that was suspended between conflicting internal and external chaos, life near death, eternal rainfall, gives herself to the construction of a handmade book. Balloon Position an appropriation, a facsimile of that dummy, a document of a document.
Anrakuji, a medium, photographic shaman, seeking through, literary, poetical, philosophical references in her enquiries.
Emi Anrakuji was born in Tokyo, Japan. She studied oil painting at Musashino Art University in Tokyo. Soon after her graduation, she was diagnosed with a cerebral tumor which caused a severe degradation of her eyesight. The illness forced her to abandon her aspiration to become a professional painter. In the course of a decade-long recovery, one day she discovered that a camera can be a replacement of her eyes then began teaching herself photography at her hospital bed. Anrakuji’s obsession with the human body is a result, in part, from her long periods spent hospitalized.
She is the author of critically acclaimed monographs, including her most iconic work IPY and MISHO.
(2) Lucas Leffler: Zilverbeek (Silver Creek) (The Eriskay Connection, 2019)
Since the 1920s the Belgian factory Gevaert accidentally disposed tons of silver as a by-product of the production of photographic film. This outflow ended up in the Grensbeek (Border Creek) that separated the municipalities of Berchem and Mortsel. For its sludge coloured black by the silver, the creek was popularly called Zwarte gracht (Black Ditch) or Zilverbeek (Silver Creek).
The myth starts in 1927 when a tool maker working at the factory realised the kind of fortune the factory was washing away on a daily basis. The man invented a system to recover the silver from the sludge in the creek. He secretly drained the stream, and transported the dried sludge to a local metallurgical plant where the silver was extracted. The man recovered up to half a ton of silver a year, more than enough for a generous salary.
This story fascinated Lucas Leffler (BE), who turned himself into a researcher. He found archive material, newspaper clippings and historical documents, and photographed the factory and the creek. And then, finally, he took mud from the bottom of the Zilverbeek, trying to find traces of silver, just like the pioneer before him. He finally used the mud to make “mud prints” by means of a screen-printing technique, of which a reproduction has been added as a poster in this publication.
(3) Mike Osborne: Federal Triangle (Gnomic Book, 2019)
Titled after a government complex wedged between the Capitol and the White House, Federal Triangle fuses a documentary approach to photography with the opportunity for alternative interpretations: simultaneously grounded in the real, and suggestive of the darker fantasies that pervade our political landscape.
The project is a series of brief encounters with the trappings of power. Men with earpieces gather on corners next to cars bearing diplomatic plates. Black Suburbans idle in the alleys behind Georgetown mansions. Gardeners receive security inspections before entering walled compounds.
Federal Triangle engages these kinds of questions in pictorial terms. The photographs are deeply ambiguous: everyday scenes are tinged with the possibility of violence and conspiracy. Withholding more than they reveal, they invite projections that speak to the fear, doubt, dysfunction, and absurdity of our current moment.
Mike Osborne is a photographer whose work touches on a range of themes including architecture, landscape, history, and technology, ultimately taking the form of books and exhibitions. His photographs are included in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Contemporary Austin, and the University of Virginia. His work has also appeared in publications such as the New Yorker, Time, the New York Times, and the New Republic. He lives in Austin, Texas.
(4) Li Yang: 404 Not Found (Jiazazhi, 2019)
These photos were taken for a city in China called “404”.
404 is just a code given to the city which has no another name, and it was and still is not marked on the map of China. This 404 city was built in the 1950s in China. During its days, there were about 50,000 people living there, but the size of which was no larger than one square kilometers.
When the city was first built, elites from all walks around the country were selected to move to 404. At that time, the city had gathered the country’s best nuclear scientists, technicians, chefs, teachers, doctors and so forth. They came here, built the city 404 with their bare hands from scratch in the Gobi desert, and they never left ever since.
I am a third generation of 404, and every photograph in this series is related to my own experience and those of the people around me. The scenes include my kindergarten, my primary school which was the same school my parents went, the public bath which we used to go weekly and it was also an important social place for the local people, and the two poplar trees that I planted myself, etc.
After half a century, people moved away from 404 at the beginning of 2000s, leaving deserted scenes everywhere. When I came back again with my camera and saw those deserted scenes, it struck me as if I was facing an entirely different world, feeling extremely familiar and yet very strange at the same time.