Review by Gerhard Clausing •
The American painter Robert Henri, who also spent some time in Paris, once said, “When we respect the nude, we will no longer have any shame about it.” This is a principle that also very much applies to the Chinese photographer 9mouth, who has a special affinity for depicting the beauty of the female figure. And wouldn’t you know it, this photobook was published by Éditions Bessard in Paris, France.
The discourse regarding the female nude has been conducted with great vigor for a long time, going back many centuries. In the evaluation of paintings, the subject seems to be more accepted than in photographs, perhaps because of a seemingly greater distance of the representation of the body in painted nudes. I discussed this extensively in my review of Reinterpreted by SameSource. Lately the depictions of the natural appearance that we are all born with has been given more artistic freedom, allowing even more diverse approaches to the photographic representations of bodies, as seen, for instance, in the works of Ren Hang and Pixy Liao, among others. Does it matter whether the images are created by a male or by a female photographer, and what gaze are they subjected to by the viewer? Such particulars certainly make a difference regarding both presentation and interpretation. Standards will vary, depending on cultural expectations and political and religious points of view.
In this project we have close to 40 large pages of female nude studies. The book certainly gets your attention with its brilliant red cover, but it is the printing process that makes it look especially distinctive. The entire book is printed with the risographic process, a technique that has a devoted following. This duplication and printing technique, which also is more ecologically sound, creates a very textured effect, as you can see in the sample pages below.
The poses shown in this book are direct and appealing, and some are more provocative than others. What is unusual is that this risographic process seems to provide the images with a certain screen-like veiled distance that gives them a very timeless and dream-like appearance. The risographic process also seems to create a softening of contours – quite appropriate for the subject – to the point of having a very soft transition from body contour to background. What might otherwise seem stark takes on a pleasant appearance that complements the beauty of the models.
Another feature of risographic printing is a kind of unpredictability as to the placement of ink droplets. This gives the entire presentation a charming look of slight imperfection, which in turn supports the potential acceptance of the subject matter as an artistic style. It is a bit as though we transported into the realm of improvisational theater, with a pop-up show of the completed visuals. Instead of crass directness, we get an effect of otherworldliness.
It makes sense that such a unique manner of presentation, in this project and others, has a loyal following among collectors.
9mouth – Eroshoot
Photographer: 9mouth 九口走召 (born in Jingzhou, China; lives in Beijing)
Publisher: Éditions Bessard, Paris, France (L’Atelier RisoGraphique n°3); © 2021
Soft cover, saddle-stitched; 21 x 29.7 cm (8.25 x 11.75 inches); 40 pages, unpaginated; limited first edition of 200 copies (sold out); ISBN : 978-2-4910520-1-0
Artistic Advisor: Pierre Bessard
Photobook Designer: Thibault Geffroy
Articles and photographs published in the PhotoBook Journal may not be reproduced without the permission of the PhotoBook Journal staff and the photographer(s).