Founded in 2016, Gnomic Book is an independent publisher with a focus on exploring the notion of a book as an object. We had a little chat with founder, Jason Koxvold on the value of monographs.
How did Gnomic Book start? And who are the people behind Gnomic Book?
Gnomic Book was born as an offshoot of my creative agency, Gnomic, because I was seduced by the possibility of publishing work in ways that perhaps fall outside of the traditional form that one might expect of a ‘photo book’. We’re a small, loose-knit group; I rely heavily on my good friends Shane Rocheleau and Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa for their insight.
How important do you feel publications are in this fast-paced and all-digital world?
A book is still, in my opinion, the best way for an artist to present a body of work in their own words: sequenced thoughtfully, with care put into the materials and design in order to support and enhance the narrative. The feel of the book, the smell of it; the way it changes with age, both in its own physical characteristics and the way the reader responds to it in relation to their own changing context. I suspect that people feel similarly about books as they do about vinyl.
Can you share with us some of the recent photobooks published by Gnomic Book?
Our two most recent books are Vreugdevuur Scheveningen, by Romke Hoogwaerts, and Half–Light, by Shahrzad Darafsheh.
How many publications do you have lined up for the coming year? Can you share some of them with us?
We have several books on deck for release in 2019; each is very different. Abendlied (Evening Song), by Birthe Piontek, is a gentle observation of three generations growing older, photographed with humour and grace. Federal Triangle, by Mike Osborne, grapples with paranoia and manipulation in Washington DC. The Reflection in the Pool, by Shane Rocheleau, is a book of work that he made while staying with a group of homeless men in Virginia. American Backyard, by Elliot Ross, documents a journey across the entire US-Mexican border, a book that’s at times counterintuitive and self-contradictory.
How do you curate or choose the projects to be published by Gnomic Book?
I’m interested in work that deals with complex contemporary issues outside of the normal modes of documentary photography; challenging the notion of photographic truth is at the core of much of what we do.
As a photographer and publisher yourself, do you feel that publications (photo-books, zine) help offer a different perspective or different way of storytelling to photography projects?
Absolutely; the form of the project dictates the shape it will take. I think it’s easy to take form for granted, especially now that so much output fits into templates that require little in the way of critical thought. We put our work into the world using Instagram, or Squarespace, we can make books with Blurb - all of these tools make it faster and easier to propagate imagery, but this isn’t always a good thing.
What do you hope to achieve with Gnomic Book?
I want to keep making books that I can be proud of, that teach me something, and that can give something back to the art community. If that stops, Gnomic Book will stop.