Photobook festival in Kassel: Turning over the pages

4-5. June I spent in Kassel at the Fotobook festival. It is always nice to meet new and old friends on such events. And of course to meet new and old books. I don’t want to describe here the event itself, which this year was dedicated to books of Martin Parr/ Iberian books/ fresh books, there are already some reports such as this one written by Harvey Benge (who was among my reviewers) or the series of reports written by Eva Gravayat, coordinator of the festival, for instance this. I’ll rather focus on my own impressions and experience.

What i actually did during the festival? Firstly, took part in portfolio review and showed my works. The review was organized very well. Of course, it can not be compared with the portfolio review which took place in Moscow 4 years ago (it is already became a legend among Russian photographers!), where we all overate caviar, fruits and champagne ))) It was organized by Garage, the institution led by a girlfriend of Russian millionaire Roman Abramovich, that explains everything. Well, with the exception of absent caviar and champagne, I can repeat that the review was very well organized. Creme de la creme of European publisher’s scene, such as Klaus Kehrer (Kehrer Verlag), Erik Kessels (Kessels Kramer Publishing) and others were invited as reviewers.

I showed two of my books – already self published in 2014 photo book “Secrets” and my new photo book dummy “Looking for my father”, on which we’ve been working last half year with a graphic designer Julia Borissova.

Got great feedback (mostly, positive!). The story behind the book is very personal and in some cases evoked deep feelings in reviewer’s souls. One of them even told me that he has almost the same situation with his already adult daughter, who is married and have children, but he has never met them. It seemed like the project touched him deeply. Glad that the idea evokes emotions in souls of people from different cultures – at the end of the day, we are all the same. Surprisingly enough, some reviewers didn’t recognize Marcello Mastroianni and Alain Delon. “Who are these guys? Is it your father? Or is it your father?”…Well, only two charming Italian curators Fiore Pinna and Chiara Capodici recognized them immediately! 🙂

The second day I dedicated to the turning over the pages of exhibited photo book dummies and winners of the photo book’s contest. The amount of great books overwhelmed me and I realized to what extent it is hard to be chosen today for such event. The field is very competitive. Among the selected dummies there were two books of Russian authors – Julia Borissova and Irina Popova. Both are really nicely done.

Photographer Irina Popova presented there books published by her publishing house “Dostoevsky Photography Society” (Amsterdam), and photographer from Azerbaijan based in Spain Ilkin Huseynov showed books made by his publishing house “Riot Books” (Madrid). I remember, when I met him 2 years ago at the same event in Kassel, he just started this publishing company and narrated about this to the blog Portraits of Unknown, and now “Riot Books” has already published some award-winning editions and Ilkin was among the reviewers of the portfolio-review, which is a really positive tendency.

I happened to visit an excursion led by Martin Parr himself through his huge photo book’s exhibition and visited some talks about books. Drank a lot of tea, talked to people a lot, stand by the table during the portfolio walk and narrated about my project thousand times… and once again has no time to see the sight of Kassel (that’s really shame, because I was here already for the third time). Let’s hope that next time I’ll finally go sightseeing!

Below is a short video giving a brief overview of some festival events (of course, not all of them, because the festival this year became really huge in comparison with the last occasion). But, of course, it is better to come and see everything by your own eyes! Let’s meet in Kassel next time!

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