2019 ILLUSTRATED BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD | PUBLISHING NEXT, INDIA
VIVAN SUNDARAM IS NOT A PHOTOGRAPHER - THE PHOTOGRAPHY WORK OF VIVAN SUNDARAM : BOOK
CLIENT : TULIKA BOOKS, DELHI
PUBLISHED 2019 | 312 PAGES | PRINTED AT LUSTRA PRESS, DELHI
Illustrated book on the expanded field of the ‘photographic’ in the works of Vivan Sundaram, one of India’s greatest contemporary artists.
Written by Ruth Rosengarten, UK
In this book, Ruth Rosengarten considers the expanded field of the ‘photographic’ in the work of Indian artist Vivan Sundaram, beginning with the notion that Sundaram is not a photographer in any traditional sense of that term. Discussing the ontological shift that photography has undergone in the age of digital production, Rosengarten considers ‘photography’ as more a practice than a medium. Exploring the uses of the historical artistic methods of assemblage, bricolage and the assisted ready-made, she throws light on Sundaram’s individual uses, and subversions, of documentary photography. In each chapter, a single or two bodies of work are analysed, positioning Sundaram in relation to various propositions in which the relationship between photography and politics is probed. Often site-specific and always entailing the collaboration of numerous other practitioners, Sundaram’s work lays bare the limitations of individual studio practice and single authorship. The works, Rosengarten argues, invite us to consider and immerse ourselves materially in the ethical claims of photography, raising questions about archivalism in art practice, and throwing light on Sundaram’s locational commitment as a citizen artist.
My philosophy to design anything including a book and its cover is anthropomorphic – that is, I offer it design principled attributions of human motivations, and/or behaviors. A book cover is a ‘face’, the cover image its tones & features, the font/typeface its voice/s, and so on.
BOOK DESIGN : With an exhaustive range of works over decades, Vivan Sundaram’s works as well as his philosophies are exhaustive and non-linear that can be overwhelming to many readers – be it a student, an art practitioner, peers, historians and the art world. Hence a coherent yet authentic inter-play of text, images and captions, two dimensional cinematic adventures are precise design decisions that contextualise the text and the artist’s works as aesthetically and elegantly as possible.
Several of the design decisions were made with readers in mind whom we anticipated have a strong internal intelligence and hence established the design as an invitation to engage along with the artist’s works and intentions. The text was meant to be read, hence an appropriate font point size and simplicity in pagination ruled that guideline – (pragmatic decisions that are rarely seen in art books, because in quest of sophistication, many designers forget the end audience) Yet there was room that was created to have the work unfold as moving edits of events. Several conversations with the publisher and the client/s revealed how the bodies of work were intended, and thus guided my presentation decisions on image juxtapositions, finding patterns and establishing unpredictable placements. Combined with ideas from the text I could also recreate the author’s intentions and experience. Many of the placement of images at the rightful context and place, or via transitional images through chapters encouraged the audience/reader to laterally fill in counter-spaces with their own thoughts, memory, queries and answers. Together all design decisions, structures and logic in this book compliment each other within a coherent and precise system and help create a enjoyable ‘reading and seeing’ experience.
EXPERIENCE AND AUDIENCE
The audience of this book is anyone interested in knowing more about tradition and future of photography in different mediums and Vivan Sundaram. The most viable of audiences are art collectors, international museums and galleries, artists’ peers and finally art students interested in discovering practices and practitioners within contemporary art and photographic expansions, history and pedagogy of exhibitions. It is a book my clients and I are exceptionally proud of.