This book won the First Photobook Award 2013, so I had to see it. But, to be frank, it feels and looks like a first book that should have stayed in the unpublished mock-up stage, rather than make it to mass distribution. The images are self-consciously "artistic" without much to engage either intellect or emotions. Even though the printing is excellent, the design echoes the cardboard-page style of an infant's book and that doesn't do much to raise the level of the author's artistic pursuit.

Salveson describes his photographic process as "unfolding like a private performance in an empty house, or after everyone falls asleep... my engagement emerges from a perspective that precedes familiarity, disregarding the functions and cultural associations that objects are assigned. I try to process my surroundings with an alien mind."

The publisher's blurb hypes the work as "absurdist constructions in which commonplace objects are jocosely rendered in polychromatic puzzles."

Way too much artspeak for me, but fortunately there is no text at all in the book — just edge to edge pictures. 

To be fair, it will be good to see what comes next from the artist, who is fresh out of his MFA program where his thesis was on toothbrush design.

— Jim Casper



Between the Shell
by Paul Salveson
Publisher: Mack
Board book: 76 pages