Alessandra Sanguinetti, Alec Soth, Araki Nobuyoshi / Juergen Teller. Correspondence and Adventures in Book Form — Jérôme Delgado

[Summer 2021]

Par Jérôme Delgado

From the traditional exchange of letters to dialogue that’s more indirect, correspondence takes various forms, especially when, through words – or simply instead of them – photography is the object of the discussion. With its narrative nature, its poetic range, its multiple paths of reading, an image in itself is speech that leads to other speech. It occurred to me to bring together three photo-books published in 2020, each of which is a true adventure.

The first, The Parameters of Our Cage,1 is a classic example of written correspondence. Please forgive this little detour! It goes without saying that this publication, which pairs Alec Soth, a photographer from Minnesota and member of the Magnum agency, with C. Fausto Cabrera, incarcerated in a Minnesota prison, doesn’t fit the usual definition of a photobook. And yet, the photograph – the image, or the result, and its concept upstream – is at the heart of the exchange, as if it were a watermark underlying each missive.

The opposite case is an entirely photographic book, Leben und Tod2 – life and death – which contains an interchange of pictures between two photographers known for their acerbic, unfiltered practices: Juergen Teller from Germany and Nobuyoshi Araki from Japan. It is not the first time the two have collaborated on a book. Leben und Tod was built on exchanges (of objects and images), geographic distance, and the passage of time – as it happens, a correspondence.

The final case is another essentially photographic project, The Illusion of an Everlasting Summer.3 This book by Alessandra Sanguinetti, a photographer living in California, departs from correspondence as we usually think of it. No letters or images were actually sent. Instead, Sanguinetti travelled over the years, repeatedly, in order to meet up with her “correspondents,” Guille and Belinda, in rural Argentina. The exchange is solely photographic. That is, the resulting images, which compose this book (and a preceding volume4), would not exist had the communication been in one direction only.
Translated by Käthe Roth


See the magazine for the complete article and more images: Ciel variable 117 – SHIFTED