Jason Paul Reimer – Excavation: A Journey Through Loss

Review by Douglas Stockdale •

Reviewing Jason Paul Reimer’s book Excavation: A Journey Through Loss is not the first time that I have seen this body of work. While jurying an earlier photobook competition for Los Angeles Center of Photography, Reimer’s project was submitted as a book-dummy/singular-artist-book. It was juried into the subsequent exhibition as well as garnering some honors. Thus, I have had the publication of this book on my radar for a while, wondering how this complex and layered book-dummy would be re-visualized as a trade book by Daylight Books. So, kudos to the Daylight Book team in conjunction with their printer/bindery Ofset Yapimevi in maintaining Reimer’s artistic vision.

Saying that this photobook is a complex and layered body of work is an understatement with multiple translucent tinted and printed pages utilizing single and double gatefolds to move his narrative forward. The use of the spiral bound (wire-o) binding is brilliant as a means to hold this project together with the various printed papers and films that would probably be a nightmare for conventional book binding, as well as a physical metaphor for Reimer’s book-dummy with its three-ring binder gathering all of the dispassionate memorabilia.

The book is part nostalgia, yearning for previous times before the ongoing tragedy became known, layered with the present moment with scenes that might be a metaphor for the unfolding events that have dire consequences for everyone involved. Interwoven through the book are photographs of manila pocket folders that someone would collect documents, which has contents that are hinted at and not fully described, hinting of Roland Barthes unseen mother in his influential work Camera Lucida. These folder are reservoirs for talismans that trigger memories that Reimer references in his book’s title, which are some of the places for excavation activities.

In the afterword, we become aware of Reimer’s loss which inspired this project, which may apparently have been an on-going issue even while this body of work was being developed. On one hand, this is a very personal project that has unique significance for Reimer yet provides a very poignant roadmap for others who deal with an unfathomable loss. Hint, the journey is not a straight line.

Rather than provide the specific, Reimer employs ambiguous subjects that resemble a labyrinth, a convoluted journey, such as the opening page spread of a photograph of a snake laying in the grass, while appearing to of a harmless variety, has overtones of something ominous. Behind the lowly snake are the formal shoes and pants of an observer, yet on further inspection there is also a cast shadow of someone else in the photograph. As we may surmise, someone’s presence can be felt while they are not actually in the picture frame. It is that missing other that is the subject of this photobook, whose non-presence creates the feelings of loss for Reimer.

Reimer appears to be attempting to deal with his broad range of emotions while employing symbolic visual representation that might help others, as well as himself, come to grips with the events that are occurring. There is a double page spread photograph of an anonymous gowned person who appears to be walking through a burnt-out wasteland; is this a projected self-portrait, someone who represents Reimer at some moment in time? Is the person in the white gown, something a medical person might wear, perhaps representing someone else who is on a lonely medically related journey through a very bleak landscape?

The book sequencing appears non-linear and although having ‘factual’ depicted subjects and landscapes while the series of photographs appear abstract in their reading and interrelationships. I find myself unmoored in trying to piece this narrative together, which perhaps is just what Reimer is feeling and what he is attempting to convey. That events have left him adrift and unanchored to the moment and his future might hold, that the current events were not ever anticipated.

This book is not an easy read and challenging to sort out what the underlying narrative is attempting to reveal perhaps consistent with a situation in which everything one thinks as being normal is turned upside down. This book provides an open ended question as to the meaning of Life.


Douglas Stockdale is a visual artist and the Senior Editor & founder, PhotoBook Journal


Excavation – A Journey Through Loss, Jason Paul Reimer

Photographer: Jason Paul Reimer, born and resides in San Diego, California

Publisher: Daylight Books, Durham, NC copyright 2022

Essay: Douglas McCulloh

Text: English

Hardcover, spiral bound (wire-o), 96 pages with 50 Color Photographs, 2 gatefolds, 1 double gate-fold, 9 x 11.5 inches, printed by Ofset Yapimevi, Turkey, ISBN 978-1-954119-106-2

Creative Director: Ursula Damm


Articles and photographs published in the PhotoBook Journal may not be reproduced without the permission of the PhotoBook Journal staff and the photographer(s). All images, texts, and designs are copyright of the authors and publishers.

One thought on “Jason Paul Reimer – Excavation: A Journey Through Loss

Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Website Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: