We asked Sang Bleu friend and fabulous New York based tattooer Tamara Santibañez to choose us her favourite pieces from LA’s desirable book fair LAABF which took place last weekend. We wholly trust her subversive and sexy taste and the results of her choices do not disappoint.
Tamara: My first time at the LAABF was a pleasant surprise as compared to the NYABF held this past fall. While equally well-attended, the spacious layout and staggered crowds made it much more possible to browse and chat up the publishers and artists and stumble upon unexpected finds. Below, my favorite picks from the weekend:
This 8×10 xerox zine combines found vintage imagery of black and latino street gangs with images of death metal youth. Laying the two side by side and in some cases overlaying them makes it often difficult to tell which is which, or where one stops and the other begins. Symbols and imagery become a common thread weaving through the photos, where skulls, flames, and the like function both as band logos and as emblems on a club jacket.
For Your Eyes Only Vol. 2- Nick Sethi
WIth a plain black cover and housed in a sealed silver foil package, Nick Sethi’s zine feels pornographic before you even open it. Inside is a collection of found photographs from the internet, each a self-portrait of a woman who has put herself in bondage or is self-inflicting some form of corporal punishment. The intrigue of the photos is initially in the irony of restraining oneself while allowing enough freedom of movement to document the moment. The idea of being both top and bottom, domme and sub, and subject and photographer simultaneously is also a fascinating one. Are the photos staged purely for autoerotic enjoyment, or for the gratification of the voyeur?
Photographed, illustrated, and written by an anonymous author under the moniker “2041”, this was one of the most compelling books I came across. The book features photos of a figure completely covered in fabric, largely in burqas or makeshift versions of them. The fabrics are incredibly lush and the contrast with the setting of the photo makes for stunning visuals. The mystery is in who is under the fabric. The author describes “the English Burqa” as being “for anyone who enjoys anonymity, luxury, and a sense of drama”, and provides instructions for creating your own. If followed, “you are now totally enclosed and hidden in the most beautiful silk or satin, with soft chiffon covering your face.” Accompanying the photos is a written catalogue of the author’s collection, complete with each one’s preferred use: “ideal for an orgy in which a girl must never see or be seen”.
69 Nudes- Emma Kohlmann
This full color book is a collection of sixty-nine of Emma Kohlmann’s ink drawings of various parts of the human body. The collection spans faces, genitals, multiple bodies entwined, and often shapes that are harder to place. Her signature style of loose, bleeding watercolor renderings morphs bodies and parts until they possess a beautiful ambiguity that requires further inspection. The drawings have a simultaneous accuracy and vagueness that challenges our own readings of them- those are women, and that’s a breast- or is it?
Sub Culture- Iain McKell
McKell’s collection of skin head photos was self-published in 1979 and intended as a professional portfolio. Few copies were sold publicly, and those that did gained cult status with collectors. The remaining copies in the photographer’s collection are now repackaged and available from Wild Life Press. Each beautiful package comes with the original book along with a signed and numbered print inside a silkscreened folder. The package and print are just the cherry on top of what is a fascinating combination of photographs and text by Klaus Fabricius. The words are short, to the point, and poignant when combined with the images of youth. “I can’t help it but I don’t think things are alright. My father. He hardly knows who I am. My mother doesn’t care what I do. If only I knew what the hell’s going on I wouldn’t want to get out of it all.”
Original copy 1979
Hide and Seek- Mirka Lugosi and Gilles Berquet
This publication by Vasta Editions combines the work of two French artists- Mirka Lugosi’s pencil drawings alongside Gilles Berquet’s photographs. The book features intermittent fold-outs, adding a surrealist feel to leafing through it. Each section reveals a strange and alluring image and the effect is amplified as the pairings change with the turning of the pages. Berquet’s photos, sometimes in a simple portraiture format, are completely changed when viewed next to Lugosi’s delicate and lush landscapes of hair, bodies, and fabric. A personal favorite spread is the last fold-out of the book, pairing a photograph of a bald woman placing a bell jar over her head with two drawings that give the scene a decidedly sci-fi feel.
Leather- Bryan Ray Turcotte and Clint Woodside
The title by Kill Your Idols immediately caught my eye as leather is a subject of constant fascination for me. This small volume did not disappoint. It is a collection of iconic images of those clad in leather, from bikers to James Dean, young punks to Mad Max. It simply sums up the allure of leather as being “tough” and “bad” and “cool” in an infinite number of ways.
8. People Series Vol. One, Bob Flanagan: Supermasochist- Re:Search Publications
I was thrilled to find a copy of this book of interviews that came out prior to the documentary “Sick” on Bob Flanagan. The film tells of Bob’s life as a poet, artist, and performer, documenting both his sexuality and his growing up with Cystic Fibrosis. Bob comes across as charming, unabashed, unashamed of his illness and his sexual preferences. His dark humor is disarming and endearing, and his relationship with his partner Sheree Rose is one of the most beautiful love stories told. This volume features six interviews with Bob and one with Sheree, his poem “WHY”, and a wealth of photographs of his life and work.
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