MOPLA 2019 Photo Book Exhibition
Guest Editorial – Richard S. Chow
Since its debut eleven years ago the Month of Photography LA (MOPLA) has experienced explosive growth with both the number of events and public awareness. Each April the diverse photographic communities in Southern California converge for a month of events. The 2019 edition was amazing. Kudos to the Lucie Foundation and the MOPLA teams for bringing dozens of exhibits and collaborations, including one exhibition devoted to photo books.
The third annual MOLPA Photo Book Exhibit was held at the new House of Lucie Gallery in ROW DTLA (Down Town Los Angeles) from April 11 to April 30th. This exhibition featured 35 books selected from hundreds of open-call submissions with really divergent subject matters, perspectives and geographies. The juried show is a global showcase with a wide breadth of topics. I was extremely proud and grateful to have my book included among the field of amazing work. My small 8×11″ self-published lay-flat photo book bears the same name as the series URBANSCAPE (I & II). I was particularly honored to exhibit for the second time as my other book was accepted in the First annual MOPLA Book Exhibit held in 2017 at the Venice Arts Gallery, Venice CA.
As a photographer and curator, I was struck by the diversity and quality of the books selected for the exhibit. The 35 books were laid out on three tables, two of which were constructed just for the exhibition. The type of books included a wide range from pamphlets, periodicals, and stiff and hard cover books. Both self-published and those produced by publishing houses were present as one may expect from global submissions. Interesting designs of note include lay-flat bindings that are uncovered on the side, unique loose inserts within the pages, and a hard-cover book complete with an inside pocket. The gallery is spacious, enhanced by the high ceiling and bright lights streaming through high walls of windows on one side. Since first visiting in March I have always loved this gallery. If you have not seen the new gallery space, I’d recommend attending one of its exhibit openings.
Among the many excellent photo book offerings, a few standouts are:
Treasures, Objects I’ve Known all my Life by Bootsy Holler. The simple and yet poignant images of her mother’s “treasures” resonate with my recollection of memories past. The book was cleverly designed as a book of postcards with a nice book cover/wrap in a foldable box. Holler shares her childhood memories on the back of the postcards, which add insightful and personal enrichment to the entire work. The book is unique because one could potentially tear out a post card and mail it. Perhaps it would be best to buy two books — one is to keep! It is a limited edition of 250 with an artist signature at the back of the book.
Tokyo Tsukiji by Nicola Tanzini. This book offers a rare documentary of the essence of the Tsukiji fish market, one of the iconic touristic spots in Tokyo, as well as the holy grail of the local sushi foodie supply house. His choice to capture images composed near closing time lends realistic glimpses of the life and times of people who spend many hours there as well as depicting a historical place that will soon to be relocated. The book, composed of black and white images, is fairly hefty and consistent with his established dramatic style.
For your Consideration by Gianluca Galtrucco. As an Angeleno I was pleased to see a book that offers an unbiased take on our desert city with all its glitter as well as gloom. Accompanied by a foreword written by respected art reviewer Peter Frank entitled “Dreams our Dreams”, the book is well worth the read and is a visual stimuli. It is a hefty, hard cover coffee-table book measuring 11.5 by 14 inches with interesting and sometimes humorous images of a city characterized by myth and legend.
Educação para todos (Education for All) by Guiherme Bergamini. I was unable to read the text on the book; at first glance I knew the impactful images were from an abandoned school. Bergamini, a Brazilian, highlighted an essential social issue of the failing educational system in his country, raising public awareness of its importance. The self-published book is a wire-bound lay-flat with 40 pages. The images are dark, beautiful and haunting, giving the reader a full sense of despair and void that impacts the younger generations.
A Collection of Strange Stories by Ian Trask and 28 of his friends. The artist had the good fortune to receive fifteen hundred 35mm slides and made collages. It is another example of hard work, serendipity, ingenious concept and execution that results in a work of art. He has married images and words into common threads of personal and intriguing narratives. The book is a compilation of 29 individual stories from Ian’s old/new friends who eagerly shared their perspectives, memories and uniqueness.
As a guest editor, I was planning to highlight three books, however I found it difficult in the abundance of great work. I hope you have found these impressions helpful and will further investigate these published gems.
Last and not least, the MOPLA photo book exhibit was accompanied not by one, but two print exhibitions on the walls. During the first two weeks was shown the annually juried Analog Exhibit, followed by a dual exhibition by Hyung S. Kim and Gerald Burkhart in the second two weeks of the run.
My sincere kudos to the MOPLA Team, I am looking forward to the 2020 edition of MOPLA and especially their Photo Book exhibit.
2019 MOPLA Photo Book exhibition:
Participating Artists: Hannah Smith Allen, Tom Atwood, Guilherme Bergamini, Tianqiutao Chen, Gabriele Chiapparini, Richard S. Chow, Ashley Cortes, Attilio Fiumarella, Tom Fowlks, Gianluca Galtrucco, Leo Garcia, Nathaniel Grann, Bootsy Holler, Remy Holwick, Karolina Jonderko, Demetris Koilalous, Hubert Humka, Andrej Lamut, Lisa McCarty, Yael Meiry, Jana Sophia Nolle, Anita Osuch, Mark Peterman, Matthew Portch, Ekkarat Punyatara, Mark Purdom, Lukasz Rusznica, Elsa Seignol, Miki Soejima, Britland Tracy, Ian Trask, Sinziana Velicescu, Tristan Wheelock, Rana Young, David Zentz, and Chiara Zonca.
Photographs copyright Richard S. Chow & Christel Robleto (Lucie Foundation)
Bio: Richard S. Chow is an award winning photographer who focuses on documentary, aesthetic and fine art images. He is honored to exhibit at museums & galleries — notable solo includes the Museum of Art and History Lancaster (MOAH), Neutra Institute Gallery, Metro 417 Gallery, Phantom Gallery, and the Orange Coast College. Recently, his images were acquired by the American Hotel in Los Angeles. In 2019 he will exhibit at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts (FMoPA). Richard earned recognition in Lucie Foundation’s International Photography Awards (IPA) 6 years running from 2013 to 2018. He is the co-producer & curator for the Los Angeles chapter of global Open Show, whose mission is to enable dialog between visual artists, collectors & industry enthusiasts. Richard is represented by United Photographic Artist Gallery (UPAG) in Tampa, LA Art Association in Los Angeles. His work can be purchased on ARTSY.net via UPAG and Fabrik Projects gallery.