It is a humbling experience for a bookmaker to troll the endless aisles of the New York Art Book Fair. But it also provides an invaluable learning experience. After scanning hundreds of books, one invariably jumps off the table demanding attention (and acquisition).
One of the books that did this for me this year was Dalston Anatomy by Lorenzo Vitturi. The first thing to catch my eye was the book’s cover. Or covers. The 500 copies of Dalston Anatomy are bound in a variety of vibrantly patterned Vlisco fabrics. The books cry out to be touched. Fortunately this tactile quality isn’t lost when opening the book. If anything, Dalston Anatomy is an ode to the sensual pleasures of the bustling marketplace.
All of the images in Dalston Anatomy were all made at London’s Ridley Road Market. We see a cacophony of texture and color: Afro’s and braids, fruit and balloons, bright paint and windswept tarps. Intermixed within this sensual frenzy are Vitturi’s sculptures made on site at the market.
One of my favorite things about Dalston Anatomy is the way these sculptures are so seamlessly intermixed with Vitturi’s photographs. This book isn’t a boring treatise on the distinction between sculpture and photography. It is a fluid, almost musical incorporation of different mediums and cultural influences.
In last week’s Popsicle, I discussed Tim Davis’s essay on the fear of humor in photography. Davis claims that the artists most likely to feature humor in their work are neither self-proclaimed photographers nor A.W.U.P.s (Artists Who Use Photography). “The nakedest and least ashamed photographers,” he writes, “are usually sculptors.”
Vitturi’s unpretentious use of sculpture in Dalston Anatomy isn’t just humorous, it’s joyous. The fact that this joyousness makes the book sing should be a lesson for photographers and bookmakers. Whether it is in the crowded markets of Ridley Road or PS1, audiences will always be drawn to jubilant music.