The Nature of Photography, The Photography of Nature
Catalan photographer Joan Fontcuberta is the 33rd recipient of the prestigious Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography.
To celebrate the award MACK and The Hasselblad Foundation are publishing a collection of six of Fontcuberta’s most iconic series including: Herbarium (1984) and Fauna (1987), dealing with botanical and biological findings of newly discovered species; Constellations (1993), images of previously undiscovered stars and their stardust; Sputnik (1997), which tells the tale of a Russian cosmonaut still lost in space; also included are Sirens (2000), an investigative project for National Geologic on the finding of the Hydropithecus (mermaid) fossils, and Orogenesis (2002) in which Fontcuberta explores landscapes using Terragen technologies.
Fontcuberta’s photography is itself about photography’s own workings, and with each series he challenges the audience’s trust in the veracity of the medium and its function as a system of representation. Confronting our anxieties about that system, Fontcuberta’s careful fabrications are laced with clues and inconsistencies – the photographer himself even appears, disguised as Hans von Kubert or Joan Fontana. In exposing the various artifices of the photographic medium, he asks how and why photography acquires a seductive truthfulness in the eyes of its viewers. As Jorge Wagensberg suggests, ‘The mere possibility that it could be a Fontcuberta is an invitation to think; in other words, it makes the believer sceptical and the incredulous believe’.
The book is a survey of Fontcuberta’s oeuvre displaying his genius as photographer, essayist, humorist and fantasist alike. In teasing fashion, the book can be flipped to reveal an essay section, with texts by Geoffrey Batchen and Jorge Wagensberg that examine and unpick the myths that Fontcuberta has so meticulously constructed.