— 10×10 Photobooks

About Leigh Ledare’s selection for the 10×10 Reading Room:

As an artist I find myself most often captivated by what might be deemed “minor” works—works that subvert the expectations of a pre-existing genre from within. As repositories of critical reflection, these works articulate meaning by way of the artist’s process, attitude, or position as an historical subject. Often challenging, these works must be considered in relation to existent modes of working and the broader culture in which they’re set. While photography unquestionably indexes the literal world, it must also be regarded as an apparatus that—like language itself—structures ways in which we as individuals engage with and experience our worlds. With this in mind, I’ve selected a number of artist’s books that I feel reflect on this relationship to image production, photography, and the book in particular. To speak to just a few:

The three chapbooks consisting of a small fragment of John Miller’s seemingly ceaseless project Middle of the Day: despite what might be pictured in front of the lens, these images evade disclosing their true subject—the leisure time between 12pm and 2pm—inside of which, paradoxically, these photographs are produced.

The perverse wit literalized in Nicolas Guagnini’s Testicular Imprints: the artist’s studied selection of cultural ephemera, stamped over with an index that aligns the photographic act of framing with an act of appropriation and territorial marking.

Out to Lunch by Ari Marcopolous: composed of many moments of the artist’s production this book seems to trace the dissolution of the author, only to re-inscribe a collective authorship over the temporal landscape of the city and, in turn, the city over its inhabitants. It is a project which—including removable posters, sticker images, as well as an unfinished film script—itself is meant to be disassembled, re-contextualized, elaborated on, and extended beyond the simple bounds of the book.

Paul McCarthy’s Slowlife/Lowlife: an archive composing a subjective cultural history that doubles as an expansive index of the dialogs running throughout many decades of McCarthy’s own production.

In this sense the medium of photography can also be seen as a non-medium, something that becomes undeniably apparent within the realm of publication.

Highlights from Ledare’s selection:

John Miller. The Middle of the Day (Set of 3 Books). (Geneva: Cabinet des estampes and Karlsruhe: Kunstbüro, Museum für Literatur am Oberrhein, 1996; Geneva: Cabinet des estampes, 2000; Cologne: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, 2005). Each book: 16 x 15 cm. (44 pp).

Aura Rosenberg. Head Shot. (New York: Stop Over Press, 1996). 25 x 18 cm. (96 pp).

Paul McCarthy. Low Life, Slow Life. (San Francisco: CCA Wattis Institute and Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2010). 24 x 17 cm. (647 pp).

Leigh Ledare uses photography, archival material, and text to explore human agency, social relationships, taboos and the photographic in equal turns. His distinct but related bodies of work are studies not only of their visible subjects, but also of photography itself: how it mediates identity, relationships, love, loss, and, perhaps above all, human vulnerability. Ledare has shown widely within the United States and Europe, recently having had major surveys of his work at WIELS Center for Contemporary Culture, Brussels, as well as Charlottenborg Kunsthal, Copenhagen. Ledare graduated with an MFA from Columbia University and has taught at Columbia University, California Institute of the Arts, and New York University.