It’s amazing what can attract a person to a book. The description for “Your Ghost” included just one image taken from its sequence, but that image was interesting enough to grab my attention, and when Max Zhiltsov from The Phooks asked if I would care to comment on some of the library’s titles, this one called out to me.
Having received the book, I have to say that it did not disappoint in any way.
I can’t spend too much time speaking about the artist because she (that much I know) is very much an unknown quantity, so I will move on to the work itself.
“Your Ghost” is quite simply, a beautiful and delicate thing
Published by UK based independent, Minimalist Works, it would seem their name is also their mission statement. To produce books which dispense with any unnecessary window dressing and concentrate on just the two key points. The object itself and the work between its covers. In the case of “Your Ghost”, a classic black typeface and Japanese stab binding using black cord are applied to a cover of beautifully textured heavy white paper, to produce an austere but undeniably intriguing first impression.
Once inside, a sequence of monochrome images is presented, one per page. Each image occupies just one half of the paper, to the top of the right-hand page. The facing left side is completely blank. In it itself this makes for a wonderful balance of photograph and design. The confidence and restraint required — for me — serves two purposes.
The first not only reinforces, but strengthens the overall concept of unadorned simplicity. The second means that as the viewer, we are constantly being asked to concentrate on one image at a time. To move our gaze to a specific point on the page, and once there delve even deeper into the impressionistic monochrome “shimmers” before us.
We are allowed — compelled even — with each picture, to spend time without the desire to flip the page and race to the next. A little like a fine meal that you don’t want to end. Savouring each morsel, knowing that with every mouthful taken the culmination of the experience moves that little bit nearer.
And of the pictures themselves. We can but surmise. Are they memories? If so, of what? A journey, a person, a moment? The answer, as elusive as the artist themself.
The sense of movement is most definitely felt in the blurred motion of the majority of the work. Whether a desert landscape. The headlights of cars and roadside lamps, dribbled in luminous white across the tones of grey that indicate the asphalt, landscape and beyond. Or a spectral figure dressed in white, arms flailing, a mane of black hair taking center stage.
Along the way, one or two moments of clarity and lucidity. Well at least with regard to the image itself.
An autumnal forest, the trees bare. Their summer coats of the greenest foliage browned, dried and cast to the floor. The scene empty, save for one solitary figure, dressed in black and positioned at the center of the frame.
The back of a woman, her black hair falling tendril-like almost to her waist. The camera consuming her nakedness.
Your ghost indeed.
I was very happy to be able to accept Max’s invitation because of books like this. “Your Ghost” has been produced in an edition of fifty copies, and it is a quiet delight.
Many more established artists and bookmakers should take note, it is not always necessary to shout in order to make the loudest sound.