Honorary AppreciationNorway

Åsne Seierstad, Po Tidholm, Lars Forsberg, Barbara Szybinska Matusiak,
Vidje Hansen, Bruno Laeng
Zumtobel AG

Designer: Snøhetta
Print: Göteborgstryckeriet

This bulky volume with a white cardboard cover, with the title embossed in thick Futura capitals in the centre, gives the impression of an art catalogue. A photograph is stuck to shiny paper in the debossed area on the back cover. An elderly woman gazes out of the intense black & white portrait. It is about light, Nordic light.

Inside the book, very different sections await the observer. Four portraits of people who are around 100 years old, with texts and photographs – two associative collections of images showing aspects of light and dark – three academic essays on the influence of polar light on a person’s living circumstances.

Something emerges that is akin to a visual cultural history of the effect of light in Northern climes. The focus is on people and light as a life-giving dimension.
The last, short part of the book, however, almost goes unnoticed. Apart from a few illustrations, it is without any pictures; the unadorned, uncomplicated numeric tables are recognisably the essential parts of an annual report. Then your thoughts turn to the tiny line on the book’s cover which you originally overlooked. In actual fact, this really is an annual report for a company that supplies lighting technology. The impressive, artistic presentation documents the high standards and quality of the company for which a clear benchmark exists: natural light.

Honorary AppreciationCzech Republic

Anna Babanová, Jitka Hausenblasová, Jitka Kolářová, Tereza Krobová,
Irena Smetáčková
Career Choice Without Prejudice
Gender Studies, Prague

Design: Jan Šiller
Print: Carter/Reproplus, Prague
ISBN: 978-80-86520-48-3

Questioning and overcoming gender role clichés and their influence on the choice of profession later in life: that is the focus of this school textbook for project work.
The open spine is not only decorative, it is hardly possible to imagine a book that opens more easily – practical handling takes centre stage. After all, a textbook has to be more than just student-friendly. First and foremost, it should naturally enable teachers to find their way through the contents with 100% certainty. Pictograms and the clear page structure are good aids here. The typography is admittedly didactic, but also unorthodox, shown for example in the column variants. With considerable differences in the font sizes, with the alternative numbers and widths of columns, with fine lines that divide and allocate, the typography deals successfully with the strong editorial structure of the content.

The illustrations of the men and women, reminiscent of Roy Lichtenstein, are characteristic but not overly drawn. Their use of fashionable features is highly economic – a subtle design subtask with a solution that is equally striking and subtly drawn.

The whole result is dense yet spacious. The texts appear compact, but a lot of space still remains at the sides; both groups of readers – the learners and the educators, are spared a flood of information. Last but not least, the wonderful list of contents displays a stringent concept. It seems like an instruction manual and a summary rolled into one.

Honorary AppreciationVenezuela

Paolo Gasparini, Victoria de Stefano (Text), Ana Nuño (Translation)
Del reverso de las imágenes
Editorial mal de ojo

Design: Álvaro Sotillo, Juan F. Mercerón (Assistent)
Print: Editorial Ex Libris
ISBN: 878-980-12-8253-2

People and little groups, reflections and windows, eyes and lenses, shop windows and dummies, pavements and advertising, confused scales and distorted sizes, inside and outside, skin and plastic, day and night, style and timelessness…

As if one of these black & white photographs weren’t enough to disturb conventional ways of viewing, they are grouped together in pairs and printed edge to edge, hardly identifiable in the book. In this way, the actual sharp juxtaposition merely becomes one more seam in the existing facets of the photographic compositions, and the pictures merge to produce a complex visual experience.

The book designer succeeds in intensifying this synthetic process employed by the photographer. He provides further image fractures by allowing the pictures to extend over the folded front edge – made possible by the Japanese adhesive binding. The book now embodies what could be described as a whole film, whose edits become constituent components of the images.

The confusion seems perfect – but one thing becomes clear: the fact that we can never be sure whether we can really recognise what we are seeing – and vice versa. Deceptive images are revealed to be real, and what is real always seems deceptive. The photographer practises the art of vision reversal, as it were. And things suddenly look you in the eye.

Honorary AppreciationGermany

Photographs by François Schaer, Text by Pauline Martin
Jours Blancs
Kehrer Verlag Heidelberg / Berlin

Design: Nanni Goebel/ Kehrer Design Heidelberg
Print: Saarländische Druckerei & Verlag GmbH, Saarwellingen
ISBN: 978-3-86828-521-5

At first glance, the large-format cover shows an abstract landscape, produced as if in a Zen trance using a pointed paintbrush. But don’t be fooled.

At second glance, if you try a bit harder, you can recognise the photographic source of a winter landscape. The capital letters spelling out the title are imprinted in white like tracks in the snow.

The book is an extensive collection of photographs which pay homage to the skier’s territory in visual minimalism. They use the white as a background provided by the days when a supernatural light saturates everything – snow-covered piste and sky – like white air.

How do you print all these many gradients of white using four colours? It is astonishing that a raster of 70 l/cm is sufficient to sustain these fine differences in tone values on the matt, absorbent board as well. Have they used higher-pigmented printing inks, perhaps?

The plates are occasionally interspersed with blank pages – with nothing on them – whenever there is a need for some breathing space. You are even tempted to spot printed tracks of weightless brightness on those pages as well.

The short legends are fortunately not positioned next to the pictures. They are added at the end on thinner paper instead, as a synopsis next to a stamp-size reproduction of each picture.

In this part, the reserved yet congenial book design uses the translucency of the thin paper; it prolongs the experience of spatial ambiguity that stages the photographs so magnificently.

Honorary AppreciationThe Netherlands

Mariken Wessels
Taking off. Henry my neighbor
Art Paper Editions, Gent

Design: Mariken Wessels, Jurgen Maelfeyt
Print: Die Keure, Brugge
Buchbindung: Hexspoor, Boxtel
ISBN: 978-94-90-800-345

This book tells the story of Martha and Henry. In pictures. Pictures of youth. A wedding. Then endless series of poses showing Martha undressed. Martha leaves Henry. Organic collages consisting of fragments of the nude photos. Surreal little clay figures. Animal traps in the woods.

Were the nude photos ever intended for the public eye? Everything seems private. The conservative setting. The model’s absent-minded expression. Rarely smiling. Hanging baskets with plastic squirrel. Henry’s tireless production, collection and categorisation of nude poses with bizarre listing.

The catalogue stages the material like an artist’s legacy. The observer is left to experience Henry’s enigmatic project without detachment. The photos are more reminiscent of mammograms than erotic images. The son writes a letter to his mother – a facsimile is inserted on an empty double page. The past splits into fragments.

If you patiently leaf through all this madness, you reach the white, grotesque, recumbent body parts – like hermaphrodites, or torsos in antiquity. Abstract body forms are created. Independent objects, released from Henry’s manic preoccupation with his fetish, his search for form. The book finishes – before the epilogue and publishing details – with a list of works for the body sculptures.
This publication serves as recognition of Martha’s courage. And it is a late recognition of Henry’s journey in pursuit of art.