Ellen Korth – //Walks//

Review by Douglas Stockdale

There are many stories related to the pervasive adaptions in response to the COIVID-19 pandemic, which has changed and impacted so many lives. Everyone has had to make numerous changes, whether travel plans, conferences, exhibitions, or art fairs due to this pandemic. It has impacted livelihoods and relationships, and sometimes our lives in a much drastic manner. For many, perhaps most, artists it has drastically altered their artistic practice, as well as exhibition, publications, workshops and other creative plans.

For some, this has also been an opportunity for quiet solitude and introspection, to slow down the clock. Instead of travels to distant and exotic far-off locations, a chance to stay close to home and calmly explore the surrounding neighborhood. Such was the case for Ellen Korth who over a period of seven weeks took a daily walk, during which she was inspired to capture at least one photograph per walk.

Korth conspired with the renown Dutch book designer Sybren Kuiper (-SYB-) to develop a wonderfully poignant and delicate artist series of folios, //Walks// from her daily investigations. This artist book is an absolutely beautiful work of art that underlines the artistic potential of photography, concept, design and book production to create something sublime.

The resulting printed sheets, which are loose, folded and assembled as a series of seven folios, one folio per each week, seven prints per folio, are stunning to behold. This set of folios are printed on Japanese Awagami double-layered paper and then the bottom layer is removed to create an extremely delicate and translucent print. To further convey her delicate subject, she physically crumpled each printed sheet and then ironed it out, essentially creating a document that emulates her nuanced natural subject. Korth is no stranger to this delicate Awagami paper and printing processes, having utilized this combination in her earlier artistic project Fabric of Time.

Her subject is predominately a natural landscape, albeit one in which ‘nature’ is created by the influence of mankind, although traces of an urban environment are also evident throughout the series of folios. The types of flowers, weeds, and other botanical subjects are a mix of ‘wild’ and non-native to the Dutch landscape, that are haphazardly allowed to grow and provide a visually enjoyable landscape. It’s an ideal location to become lost in introspection. 

One needs to slowly examine the series of prints in each folio, which provides a similar opportunity for introspection, as these pages are too delicate to handle quickly. One is forced to proceed in a measure manner to visually walk with Korth on her meditative journey. The printing and subsequent separation of the Awagami prints reduces the contrast of the photographic images, creating a sea of subtle grays. The low contrast pages add another layer to her narrative as a further need for a reader to spend time with each print, as these pages are not meant to be a quick read.

The seven folios, each with a unique embossed folio cover, are paired with a hand-built fiber box, also embossed on all four sides, which has an artist red chop (stamp) inside for the edition signature and numbering. Accompanying each folio is a smaller stab-stitched chap-book that is embossed with her weekly pathways, and her essay, in which this slim booklet hints that her journeys originated from or near Slot Nijenbeek in the Netherlands. The embossing of the chap-book text and maps echoing the delicate nature of the folios in the need for a careful reading, which creates its own challenge to re-photograph for this review.

A brilliant artist book in design and execution that is a fascinating read and a wonderful meditation on nature.

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Other photobooks by Ellen Korth featured on PhotoBook Journal; CHARKOW, and Fabric of Time.

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 //Walks//, Ellen Korth

Photographer/artist: Ellen Korth (b. The Hague, Netherlands – resides Deventer (Netherlands) & Nordhorn (Germany)

Self-published, Deventer (Netherlands), copyright 2020

Essay: Ellen Korth

Text: English

Stiff covers (seven folio covers), embossed with string ties, loose sheets, offset on14-gram Japanese Awagami double-layered paper, and then bottom layer removed, housed in an embossed fiberboard box, with embossed and hand sewn chap-book, Edition of 50.

Bookbinder: Fopma Wier, Debossing by De Vos Special Print

Photobook Designer: -SYB- (Sybren Kuiper)

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Articles & photographs published on PhotoBook Journal may not be reproduced without the permission of the PhotoBook Journal staff and the photographer(s).

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