Review by Douglas Stockdale •
Jakob de Boer takes us on his mystical and mythological journey into the Pacific Northwest, a place of memories, and the resulting black and white landscape photographs become meditative poems. His narratives encompass abstract and ambiguous shapes and forms that explore the black and white scale. Other photographs are inclusive of the details of natural forms subsequently paired to create an expanding dialog, such as the contrast of lightness and darkness or male and female forms.
De Boer taps into the heavy, dense air of this region to embody the surrounding landscape with its particular atmosphere as much as a working partner in his photography. We can never be sure of the size and scale of his subjects, an ambiguity that affords us, the reader, to create our own narratives. Likewise, the distillation of this juniper, sage and fern landscape into a palette of grays provides beautiful abstractions that de Boer astutely employs to develop his visual poems. Another creative element is his deft handling of exposure to create a series of moody images that embody the Pacific Northwest light.
The introduction of the masks into the pictorial frame is an emotional jolt, an element of surrealism that arouses many questions, which proceed without answers. Are these masks common to this region of the Canadian Northwest? Are these physical manifestations of forgotten spirits? Do these masks represent the spirits of this region which watch over and protect this land? The latter question is related to another emotional element of this region, the clear-logging of the forest and resulting scared landscape laid bare which impacts all of the creatures who had depended on this now ghostly forest, a place where ravens cry.
Nazraeli Press continues to create beautiful and layered photobooks in this selection of matte paper with sufficient hand with a light varnish on the photographic plates to provide a really nice luster to the black and white tonalities. The swiss binding allows this book’s interior to lay-flat, which provides a wonderful reading experience. The quadtone printing provides a variety of warmer to neutral toned plates providing a visual range of meditative and poetic moods. Likewise, the loose quad folded insert, titled “Pre-Myth” is an interesting stitched panoramic image; ambiguous and moody, although I find that not all of the folds coincide where the negatives join, thus the image appears a bit disjointed.
All in all, a wonderful lyrical body of work.
Where Ravens Cry, Jakob de Boer
Photographer; Jakob de Boer, born Toronto, Canada and resides Toronto and Paris, France
Publisher; Nazraeli Press (copyright 2019)
Afterword by Jakob de Boer
Hardcover, embossed, tri-fold cover with magnetic closure, inside panel with tipped-in photograph, swiss binding, 41 Quadtone plates (black and 3 grays), with a quad folded loose insert, printed in China. ISBN: 978-1-59005-504-5
Photobook Designer: Chris Pichler and Jakob de Boer
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