Each year the most beautiful photo books are chosen by the German Photo Book Award by a selected jury, with the purpose of celebrating and honoring exemplary projects in the field of visual-led book publishing in the German-speaking countries. The winning, short- and longlisted titles of 2019 were presented yesterday night at the award ceremony at the Stuttgart Book Weeks. The award categories include author, publisher, and graphic designer. The awarded books will go on tour and are shown at various places in Germany as well as in the near and far foreign countries in the upcoming year.
Among the shortlisted titles was Goosewalk, a unique photo book by Regina Anzenberger, an Austrian artist, curator, gallerist and publisher. Anzenberger runs one of the major photography galleries in Vienna, AnzenbergerGallery, as well as the Anzenberger Agency, Bookshop, Workshops, Masterclass, and Edition, a publisher of handmade photobooks and collectors editions. A true photo book connoisseur, Regina Anzenberger was kind enough to give us some of her time, and answer a few questions about the idea and inspiration behind the title, and how the project came to be.
The book Goosewalk is very intriguing. Can you tell us what the book is about, and where did the idea come from?
In the beginning, there was a mysterious story about a swan, which appeared in the sky when I was about to scatter the ashes of my recently deceased dog Shakeera. “Is this the reincarnation of our beloved white dog?“ me and my 13-year-old dogsitter, Leila, wondered, sadly. But as it turned out later, it’s the goose, not the swan, who is the inspiration and the main protagonist of this book.
Goosewalk tells the story of a slaughterhouse-runaway goose who settled on a golf course and has been accepted by three wild geese. It has not been a coincidence that they landed at a golf course because geese can only eat short grass. Here they lived in freedom, although still protected, endlessly being served freshly mowed grass on a platter. Only the winters were lonely when the wild geese flew south. But come spring, the birds happily reunited on the same pond.
The book is beautiful, with dramatic black and white photographs, and numerous design details. Which specific papers were used, and were there a particular reason for choosing them?
The white paper (Munken Polar) was used in order to show the goose in a suitable white. Also, the endpaper was selected to amplify the feeling of sand. On this endpaper, we printed a photo of tracks of the geese in the bunker sand. Actually it was really the last picture I took when I was photographing the project.
What is your process like when working on a project such as Goosewalk?
In my artistic practice I always first think about making a book. Then the exhibition comes. For me, it is important to do everything myself: the photography, the painting, the drawing, finding objects to add to the works. Then making the editing and layout. I love finding the right papers for a project, the thread for the binding and the fabric for the spine. In the end also the collector’s edition with the book and a print which is presented in beautiful papers and threads.
I love finding the right papers for a project, the thread for the binding and the fabric for the spine. In the end also the collector’s edition with the book and a print which is presented in beautiful papers and threads.
Of course, I have a perfect producer who is Tea Design in Sofia. They help me a lot in realizing the perfect quality that I want. I know them for several years and have made different artist book projects with them. They work with the best book designers now. For Goosewalk I made some goodies to the book. First I added a card to each copy, something like a bookmark. And I have made a stamp of a drawing of the goose. This was stamped on the cover and inside between the title and my name.
Each book becomes handmade and unique. This reminds me that I should also mention that the binding was made by hand as I did not follow any rule for the pages of the foldouts. I have to admit that for my next book my producer’s first question was: Does it has foldouts? I know that he did a really great job but it was a very difficult one. To answer the question: No foldouts for my next book.
The book is published by the AnzenbergerEdition. Can you tell us a little bit more about the gallery, and sets you apart from other galleries?
AnzenbergerGallery shows largely unseen young or established international artists over six to eight exhibition cycles per year. The gallery also organizes workshops and has a bookshop for rare, self-published, signed, and limited edition photography books from all over the world. Many books are published by the artists themselves and limited to an edition of not more than 100 copies. Organizing the ViennaPhotoBookFestival for five years from 2013 to 2017, this work and an intense interest in the medium has made me an expert for photobooks. I love books where the ideas for design and photography go together.