Q: How did you come up with the overall concept for the book? What did you think the book should do for a viewer?

A: Moisés is a typology of portraits of men in their 70’s, the age of my father if he were alive today.

I wanted the book to resemble this impossible search. I wanted the viewer to have an experience, not just go through the pages rapidly, as we normally do. That is why I decided to rely on the structure of the book to convey the narrative using two booklets put together with interleaving pages, creating a design that defines the way the story is told. Turning the pages, one from the right, one from the left and so on, creates a certain rhythm and the feeling that you are looking for something (someone), at the same time you are unfolding the story.

I am interested in how a simple idea can get complex to the extend of creating an experience to the viewer.

The structure of the book achieves two things I was very interested in: the first, to be able to present the diptychs and triptychs of the series representing insistence through repetition (symbolizing the obsessive search of my father). The second, to slow the viewer’s pace by having to unfold the pages, searching, discovering and finding as I was and to force him/her to look at the images twice, in whichever way they decide to turn back the pages.

You can close the book once you get to the “end”, but my idea was that the viewer is encouraged to go through the images again in order to see it all in a different way, in the opposite direction, with all its narrative implications.

As the author, at the end of the book I suggest a way to go back the pages (begining from the right) but actually the viewer can turn the pages in many different ways, ending up in various outcomes to a complex and never ending search.

Q: Did the idea for the design and production make work with the
publisher more difficult? How was that interaction?

A: Not in my case or at least not with the Publisher. Maybe with the binding workshop, because of the technical difficulties (they have never done a book like this before and no machine can manage 3 covers so it is all hand bound).

When La Fabrica approached me, they knew I was working on the dummy of the series Moisés and were interested to see the same work I got the award for (Descubrimientos PHotoEspaña) in a book format.

They really liked the dummy I presented them (very similar to the final version) and were very supportive in producing it exactly as I wanted, making no changes whatsoever.

Q: Are there things you learned during the process of making the book that you didn't know before?

A: So many! I think this is particularly true when you publish your first book. The whole experience is an intense learning process, so full of decisions to be made.

From technical possibilities and limitations in choosing paper, format, size, binding technique to the way narrative unfolds in a totally different way in the book format than in a gallery space or in an slideshow online. This might sound obvious to the more experienced, but to me it meant the realization of the potentiality of the book.

I also learned a lot from working with physical dummies, in every stage of the process, as opposed to a file in the computer, where you can see and feel how the book really works. This is the way artists realize how the decisions they made throughout the process are now materialized and enhance or disserve the experience they were looking for.

In the first dummy, I was trying very hard to “explain” the story (something I consider to be an obstacle to overcome in my artistic practice) using all sort of different materials, text and images from previous series, not to leave any loose ends. At some point, I realize that in my case, the simpler the idea and its ejecution, the better and that complexity lies in the structure and the way the story is tell. I decided to take the risk not to garnish the images or the book and took out the text and every other ornament I was using to allow the narrative to bluntly expose itself.

Q & A included in the book Understanding Photobooks, The form and Content of the Photographic Book by Jörg Colberg, published by Focal Press, 2017.


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