Blurb & 893 etc

The first presentation on Sunday morning on the London Blurb Self-Publishing day was given by Anton Kusters, a photographer who specialises in long term projects and is based in Brussels, where he runs his own web and interactive design agency and is also creative director of Burn Magazine, the online publication for emerging photographers curated by Magnum photographer David Alan Harvey, which I’ve mentioned a few times here.

Kusters won the 2010  Blurb Photography Book Now Editorial Prize for 893 magazine  on the 893 project which he has been working on with the help of his brother in Tokyo for a couple of years, making numerous visits there. It took lengthy and complicated negotiations, sealed with an impressive looking document to get the permission to document the Yakuza, a Japanese crime family that runs the streets of Kabukicho, the red-light district in the heart of Tokyo. The contract runs for two years and Kusters has committed himself to publishing 893 magazine twice a year to show his progress. You can also read more about it on his 893 blog where he posts work and discusses the project and his feelings about it.

This is fascinating and at times exciting work, with a real air of menace in some of the pictures, but Kusters is very much concerned with getting under the skin of his subjects rather than taking some moralistic stance. It is a study of a subculture made with their cooperation and collaboration, and every image used has to be approved both by the photographer and his subjects.

During his talk, Kusters talked a lot about the process and the various stages, particularly using printed ‘books’ that he has used to refine his work, and also showed a short film clip. His is work that crosses a number of media boundaries, with some exciting and fresh design.

I’ve never been to Kabukicho, but have seen many pictures from the area, which is part of Shinjuku, the stamping ground of several leading Japanese photographers, including Daido Moriyama (his own web site is slow to load and rather unpredictable)  and Nobuyoshi Araki – in 2005 they did a joint show Moriyama-Shinjuku-Araki.

© 2010, Peter Marshall
It was a hard act to follow, and so too was the presentation by the PBN Portfolio prize winners ‘WassinkLundgren’ after which it was my turn with a rather less dynamic presentation of ‘Before the Olympics‘.

Among those at the event was Pierfrancesco Celada, who had made a Blurb book using his pictures from The Bigg Market in Newcastle. You can see some of these in the two sections insideout and insideout on his web site – and I also particularly liked some of the images from the St James’s pilgrimage.

Unfortunately Bruno Ceschel was unwell and so the self-publishing debate was a little different from anticipated with Robin Goldberg of Blurb in the chair and myself, Anton Kusters and artist Jonathan Lewis of ABC Cooperative on the panel. More about my ideas on the future in a later post.

One Response to “Blurb & 893 etc”

  1. […] almost two years ago, at the end of a post on Blurb’s 2011 London Self-Publishing day – Blurb & 893 etc that I had mentioned my contribution to a chaired debate on self-publishing and made an as yet […]

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