‘Astres Noirs’ is shortlisted for Paris Photo Aperture Foundation first book award.
Review by Robert Dunn on Photo Book Store Magazine:
“What do we do with black and white these days? Photographers can of course still shoot film, process it, print it; they can chase masters such as Garry Winogrand and Bruce Davidson as if it’s still forty, fifty years ago. But if a photographer wants to bring black and white into the current century—modernize it, exploit all the current possibilities—then what to do?
One approach that caught me at last year’s New York Art Book Fair was Antony Cairns’s LDN EI, in which he put his high-contrast black-and-white images on a hacked Kindle. Clicking through the “book,” you saw less a photo and more an arrangement of tones. I bought the Kindle version of LDN EI (still available), yet passed on the printed version—it wasn’t as interesting, not as pure an experience.
One exciting thing about Katrin Koenning and Sarker Protick’s Astres Noirs is that it brings experiment and new technology in black and white back into a physical, bound book—indeed, one of those photobooks that could only be an actual book. But what intrigues me most about Astres Noirs is that in a way it understands that it’s not black-and-white photography at all, but something else instead.
You get a clue to what’s going on as you open the book and find the words “All colours … within black.” Then you realize that half-hidden under a folded sheet is the word disappear, so the phrase reads, “All colours disappear within black.” And that’s what Astres Noirs is: a book of photos in which the colors have been removed. We call it black and white (or, as we’ll see, more accurately black and silver) because that’s what we’re used to, but in truth the book is onto something else. Just look at the title: In English, Black Stars. This book is not called Black Holes. Light and form do not disappear but instead shine forth, but mysteriously, ambiguously, contradictorily.”
Read more: Photo Book Store Magazine