The Lenscratch Favorite Books of 2022
Today we feature some of our Favorite Books of 2022 (and a few from previous years). I’m not a big believer in the word BEST as that definition is different for everyone. There were so many spectacular books created this year but we had to narrow it down to some favorites. We invited out staff and the 2022 Lenscratch Student Prize winners to share there picks.
In case you aren’t aware, we have done a ton of articles on photo book publishers with our Publisher’s Spotlight effort (ongoing). One note: we need more women publishers!
Artist Justine Kurland produced a most brilliant, brave, and inspiring offering in 2022 that totally blew me away. SCUMB Manifesto, published by MACK Books was inspired by Valerie Solanas’ iconoclastic feminist tract SCUM (Society for Cutting Up Men) Manifesto. “SCUMB Manifesto introduces us to photographer Justine Kurland’s own uncompromising initiative: the Society for Cutting Up Men’s Books. This volume presents a collection of collages Kurland created by cutting up and reconfiguring photobooks by male artists, as she went through the process of purging her own library of roughly 150 books by straight white men that have monopolized the photographic canon.”
This year, photographer Stephen L. Starkman was given a life changing diagnosis. That revelation was the impetus to chronicle his cancer journey from both the reality of hospital rooms and treatments, but also from the internal perspective of seeing and appreciating this thing called life. The book is titled The Proximity of Mortality: A Visual Artist’s Journey Through Cancer.
Linda Alterwitz, Lenscratch Art + Science Editor
My favorite book of the year is Richard Misrach’s Notations, published by Radius.
The series of works are beautiful, playful, and thought provoking. It helped me free my thoughts out of the pandemic mindset
Daniel George, Lenscratch Submissions Editor
One of my favorite meditative practices is to be alone, outdoors, far removed from anyone. Wandering with my thoughts. I was happy to find that the photographs of scott b. davis’s Sonora evoke a similar sensation. I can feel the quiet of the desert from my comfy chair—and admire the wonders of land, sky, and light.
Michael Honegger, European Content Editor
Sara Bennett, Lenscratch Content Editor
Drew Leventhal, Lenscratch Student Prize Winner
As It Was Give(n) To Me by Stacy Kranitz, Twin Palms Publishers
Barbara Ciurej, Lenscratch Content Editor
Jonathan Blaustein’s Extinction Party was new to my library, although published in 2020 by Yoffy Press. His many projects investigating consumption in America are woven into a narrative that is serious, funny, appealing and appalling. If you’ve ever found yourself in a Party City wondering just how many lumberjack themed party goods the world needs, this book is for you!
Lindsay Lochman, Lenscratch Content Editor
Alesandra Sanguinetti‘s Some Say Ice (MACK, 2022) has been an especially powerful and resonant book to me over the past few months. In Some Say Ice, Sanguinetti works in response to Wisconsin Death Trip, a book of photographs made by Charles Van Schaick in the late 1800s.Through her dark, dream-like atmospheric construction, Sanguinetti alludes to themes of death, myth, the invisible, and the imaginary, photographing in a space that moves constantly between reality and unreality.
Mackenzie Calle, 2022 Lenscratch Student Prize Winner
Zora J. Murff’s True Colors (or, Affirmations in a Crisis), published by Aperture, is a deeply intimate narrative of survival situated amongst the backdrop of Black patriotism and divisive structures in the United States. The original photography is an incredibly personal diary of reflection, deepened by the artist’s past work as a social worker, while the appropriated imagery and text navigate the history and continued impact of institutional racism on Black lives. The bold yet nuanced design elements are visually engaging and symbolic, historical, and show an appreciation for other Black artists and writers. I was hooked from the cover, a long exposure of flowers, which I later found out is an honorific to Ahmaud Arbery. From the construction to the powerful content, it is a gorgeous read that I refer to constantly.
Emily Wall, Lenscratch Content Editor
This year I got my hands on Carolyn Drake’s photobook, Knit Club. The colors immediately drew me in but the themes of domesticity and community turned on their heads have kept me going back to the book.
Galina Kurlat, Lenscratch Content Editor
My favorite book in 2022 is Meghann Riepenhoff’s Ice, published by Radius Books; this beautifully designed monograph features new and enigmatic cyanotypes of ice crystal formations made in far-reaching bodies of water. As always,Meghann’s work is a collaboration between herself, the landscape, and time. These pages are filled with subtle color variations and lush textures, accompanied with text by the activist writer Rebecca Solnit.
Marisa Lucchese, Lenscratch Content Editor
I was introduced to Summer’s Almost Gone this fall during my last semester of college, and my peers and I quickly fell in love with not just the images but the structure as well. The use of gate folds and poetry within the book perfectly encapsulates the desperate attempt to hold onto fragments of memories. Llovet’s exploration of the passage of time through this book is deeply personal, and yet, it is something any of us can connect to; it felt especially poignant to me during this period of immense change in my life.
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