Workshop Dummies: Bucharest
In mid-September we held our first Photobook making Workshop in Romania. Many thanks to Patricia Morosan, who made it all possible, Dani and the SwitchLab. After the Covid-forced break it was true joy to finally have a live Workshop, which, incidentally, ended up in our AirBnB bedroom. (It's just never enough time on the last day).
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“I don’t know what I am writing about. It’s like we never were really here. I will go to sleep, nothing is real, only you in my dreams.”
Nadina’s project “Slippery sleep” is a personal story, emotional landscape that is seen as a sort of a cloud of dreams and related to them feelings, moods, fragments of thoughts, memories. She seeks to combine photography with a variety of sketches, drawings, collages, painted over images and words. All those components create a dense open-end visual diary. Dummy is conceived as a long leporello (14 meters!) that can be always extended by new fragments of “dreams” and ultimately put in a box. Images are printed mostly on one side with very few ones on the back side. Soft thick textured paper highlights the hand-made character of featured photos, drawings etc.
“Botched” (Romanian street word) is an ongoing project that features street photography deep in colours, rich in textures, extreme in angles. Dummy relies mostly on strong sequencing with powerful pairings that highlight the strength of each image. As to design, the intention was to follow the freestyle street character of the project and create an object that would be handy, playful, easy to put in the pocket or waist bag. And we ended up with 10x15 cm format with all pages attached to a key ring, which makes it somewhat “down-to-earth”, rough, relating to young free lifestyle. As if a skater could take it out of his/ her back pocket in between tricks and show it to friends.
To highlight colours and textures there are occasional transparent red/ green/ blue/ mirror plastic sheets, fabric net pieces, and a thick piece of metal with rough metallic net on top as a cover. Pictures are printed on glossy paper.
See in the slideshow how Ella made the dummy part of her exhibition. Looks cool.
“My first camera I found in my Grandmother’s closet, in a tin box, where she kept the old family photos and letters. Maybe that’s why, ever since I found myself holding a camera in my hand, my grandmother Cornelia, for me Buni, was always the favourite subject of my photography.”
Dan’s project is a view of his grandma’s house where daily things bear intimate memories of the past and the main character - grandmother - is their keeper. It is clear, quiet and nostalgic. Therefore, the we went for the intimate format 16x14 cm and clear layout. In the heart of the book one finds the foldout with portraits nested against the house's background. Warm structured thin paper adds to the softness of the narration. Warm beige cardboard cover features a part of the picture from the garden of the house (on both front and back sides). Swiss binding allows the book to open flat and see clearly full spread images.
“Cool dawn is one of these projects that came about by observing how the city is coming back to life after the melting heat of summer fades a little bit away at the end of each day. 'Never miss a dawn of summer' I said to myself, and so I go out and try to see how life gets out on the streets on a normal, relaxed rhythm, while at the same time light is slowly turning into dark.”
The sequencing logic was to follow the fading light and thus move towards the complete dawn/ darkness. The narration is dense and even cramped giving a feeling as if it is too stuffy, and it really is. The printing is also aimed to support the idea of cooling in that the first half of the dummy is to be printed on warmer tint of white, while the other - on a colder tint of white or blueish paper. Glossy paper highlights the sweaty feeling. The dummy has Swiss binding with soft cover.
Anastasia’s work has an academic touch: it is more of a theoretical and conceptual study of how people dwell places and how that communication evolves. “Inspired by the pre-modern idea of dwelling each image represents a meditation, a search for the silence and inner loci of the landscape. Allowing myself the time to wander in each particular place and the act of photographing to become as less intrusive as it can, places unfolded and started gaining dominance over the self. Hovering around certain mundane objects, non-human bodies stances and materials, I allowed them to stimulate me, unfolding their latent potential and agency.”
To support the idea of space we came up with a format that allows images to unfold in space and the viewer to follow the story unfolding. The dummy has several folders with different “clouds” of pictures, studying certain environment. All signatures are eventually hand bound together (Swiss binding) with soft cover, whose extra back foldout to be tied by a thread around the whole dummy. The text is printed on transparent paper and is placed loosely inside.
It is a quiet journey through the natural environment that reconciles with oneself. “I feel most comfortable around leaves and soil; when I was little I used to eat grass and leaves, but I was too afraid to climb trees, I wonder when I am pregnant if I become a geophage”.
The zine is the first attempt of the book form and is conceived as a quiet walk through the landscapes that bring peace. The layout is simple and clear with horizontal monochrome images of grass, leaves, stones, bushes, trees alternating each other. Natural craft colour cover features the outline of the stone from one of the pictures. Zine has a pamphlet binding.
My goal for the workshop was to see and understand how the photo-book is evolving and how photos can transform into an art object. The workshop met my expectations and I learned a lot more than I thought at the beginning. The results were really incredible from what I started with, I'm really happy with the dummy and how the pictures and the object convey the overall message. I enjoyed the most the energy of our tutors, Calin and Yana, who shared with us so many books and explained every dilemma that we had regarding the process of making a photo-book. For sure I will recommend the workshop to all of my friends who love photography, design and book-making. So thank you for this incredible opportunity that made me understand what I want to make further from my work.
My main goal was obviously creating a dummy and discovering the hidden process behind it. I wasn’t sure what I should’ve expected, it was all new for me and I knew that almost everything there, was going to be useful in the future. Another goal that I had, was meeting new people from the art scene and exchanging ideas, which definitely happened. The Workshop totally met my expectations. I think I finally started to understand how long and complicated the process behind every book is and how actually even a 10 pages zine could be made in months of work, but at the same time I saw how you can finish a dummy in only 3 days. As a perfectionist, I can never say I am 100% satisfied with the final project, but that’s normal for me, always aiming for better. Anyway, I was surprised with the final result and wasn’t expecting it to look like that, which was a good surprise for me. For a dummy, it was pretty much what I wanted. What I enjoyed most: Firstly, the freedom, that I had, mixed with the directions from you, fitted perfectly in mine. Secondly, I would say the amount of inspiration and references that you presented on the first day, which made me realise I can do almost any zine that I want, with any type of material. It also kind of felt like arts and crafts workshop. I would surely recommend this workshop to anyone having the chance to take part in it or in any other workshop related to artist’s books. I learnt so much about choosing little details suitable for each concept and how even switching 2 photos, can make a huge difference. I also hope I’ll work with dienacht Publishing again.
The workshop with you helped a lot, especially with the sequencing part of my project as the idea I had for my dummy changed during the workshop. You're very caring people and your level of interest for photobooks got me from the first talk. The most important part of the workshop for me was a series of questions I keep asking myself when I'm in a deadlock: 'why do I need this in my project', 'why do I want this', and basically any variation of 'why' I can imagine. Also, when the workshop started I wasn't thinking about the final part of my project, it was more like a contribution to my experience with photobooks, but after the workshop, I realized that I truly liked how the dummy turned out and I want a better form for it.