This exhibition consists of nineteen different folios including collections by David Grant Best, Carl Chiarenza, Chuck Davis, Mitch Dobrowner, Brooks Jensen, Kim Kauffman, Don Kirby, Stu Levy, Harold Ross, Camille Seaman, and Huntington Witherill. Also incorporated in the exhibition are several chapbooks for hands-on viewing. In addition, many unique keepsakes will be displayed. Beyond enjoying the art of photography, this exhibition is aimed at inspiring new ways to consider when presenting photographs.
Not every photographic project or image needs to be presented on the wall. “In fact,” says Brooks Jensen, editor of LensWork and curator of this exhibition, “I often wonder if we’d see this presentation nearly so often if Alfred Stieglitz hadn’t copied the gallery presentation of paintings. Stieglitz hoped to increase photography’s stature in the art world in those early days by mimicking the use of frames and the gallery wall. If, however, we decide to look for alternatives and break from framed prints on the wall, we find a world of creative possibilities.”
A folio is a new way to present a collection of prints. Neither a “portfolio” nor a book, it’s somewhere in between. After pioneering this presentation for his personal work, Jensen needed a term to define this new format — and settled on the term folio — a collection of loose, unbound prints. Like a book, a folio consists of more than one image — from several to a dozen or more. Like original prints, they are individual, handmade, and can even be in a limited edition. From the success of the folio concept in his personal work, it was not a large leap to realize that this idea could be adapted for the presentation of collections of prints from LensWork alumni.
Like folios, a chapbook offers photographers a way to publish small, finely crafted presentations of their photographs — but unlike folios, chapbooks are typically sewn, handmade books. Poets and calligraphers have made chapbooks for generations. Jensen’s chapbooks are from 4 to 12 pages in length containing anywhere from a few up to a dozen images and text. These hand-sewn volumes are all printed to the highest archival standards and are truly collectible publications. “I particularly like,” Jensen says, “that they offer an intimate, handheld viewing experience that brings the viewer in direct contact with the materials.” Chapbooks are a delight for anyone who loves paper and the tactile experience of handling a finely crafted object.
Again, borrowing from the world of handmade books, keepsakes are a great way to share photography without the burdensome baggage of commerce- laden artwork. Keepsakes are traditionally given as gifts and treasured as true collectibles. Even more flexible in design than chapbooks, the imagination is free to design almost anything that can be imagined in paper and common materials. Keepsakes and photography make a natural combination because of photography’s inherent reproducibility.
In this exhibition, we present sample of folios, chapbooks, and keepsakes from the LensWork Special Editionscollection and from Brooks Jensen’s personal work. Working with the photographers they’ve published in LensWork, the editors collaborate with photographers in the spirit of the Ansel Adams Special Editions to present work produced under the approval of the artists, but not as artist-made original artwork. This allows the LensWork Special Editions to maintain the highest form of reproduction and image fidelity but at an affordable, “real people” pricing structure.LensWork has been producing Special Editions since 1998 and worked with dozens of photographers to bring their vision to within affordable reach of people who love fine art photography.