Photobook Review by TPW's Kedar Kulkarni
of "Dust" by Viennese Photographer Klaus Pichler
Introduction to the word DUST
Etymology of the word (Etymology Dictionary)
dust (n.) Old English dust, from Proto-Germanic *dunstaz (cognates: Old High German tunst "storm, breath," German Dunst "mist, vapor," Danish dyst "milldust," Dutch duist), from PIE*dheu- (1) "dust, smoke, vapor" (cognates: Sanskrit dhu- "shake," Latin fumus "smoke"). Meaning "that to which living matter decays" was in Old English, hence, figuratively, "mortal life."dust (v.) c.1200, "to rise as dust;" later "to sprinkle with dust" (1590s) and "to rid of dust" (1560s); from dust (n.). Related: Dusted; dusting. Sense of "to kill" is U.S. slang first recorded 1938 (compare bite the dust under bite (v.)).
1.fine, dry powder consisting of tiny particles of earth or waste matter lying on the ground or on surfaces or carried in the air."the car sent up clouds of dust"
synonyms: fine powder, fine particles; More
any material in the form of tiny particles."coal dust"
a fine powder."he ground it into a fine dust"
a cloud of dust.
literarya dead person's remains."scatter my dust and ashes"
literarythe mortal human body."the soul, that dwells within your dust"
2.an act of dusting."a quick dust, to get rid of the cobwebs"
verb: dust; 3rd person present: dusts; past tense: dusted; past participle: dusted; gerund or present participle: dusting
1.remove the dust or dirt from the surface of (something) by wiping or brushing it."I broke the vase I had been dusting"
bring something out for use again after a long period of neglect."a number of aircraft will be dusted off and returned to flight"
3.USinformalbeat up or kill someone."the officers dusted him up a little bit"
A Question of Category
Is every Gallery Catalog a Photobook, no, this book is essentially a Gallery Catalog that needs a lot of work to become a Photobook but there is a Photobook somewhere in this narrative.
So the Word Photobook occurs 65 times more frequently than the words Gallery Catalog Museum Catalog or Show Catalog as per google news trends analysis
A 2012 gallery Show at the Anzenberger gallery where Pichler's shows mostly happen, and the website of the Anzenberg gallery itself states, its strategy towards the popularity of the Photobook and how from the gallery show the gallery website shop now offers books. Nothing wrong with that at all.But for photobooks to be lasting and important objects in themselves they must justify that TAG, having said that now, lets look at the book as a record of a show, and as a sequence of photographs To start with,
Back to Definitions
(Dust (Wikipedia) consists of particles in the atmosphere that come from various sources such as soil, dust lifted by weather (an aeolian process), volcanic eruptions, and pollution. Dust in homes, offices, and other human environments contains small amounts of plant pollen, human and animal hairs, textile fibers, paper fibers, minerals from outdoor soil, human skin cells, burnt meteoriteparticles, and many other materials which may be found in the local environment.) is a vast topic like those small words, it creeps up on you and of course need it be said, Everything turns to dust, but beyond the cliches what can be said.
For one a clear categorizing for which Mr. Pichler's work has a clear penchant, a taxonomy, a sequencing, and a categorization these are his tendencies and his ambitions. In the Categories of Dust this books deals with Human or Domestic Dust what humans generate as opposed to the Natural Environment or the Cosmos.Hence a Question of titling can a Photobook/Gallery Catalog focusing on One aspect of the Phenomenon, call itself generally for all of the above. yes surely that is fine but it's domestic human scale must be acknowledged.Which the book fails to clarify other than off course recourse to it's photos and the titles of those photos.
Which is a taxonomy in itself of Places. These are the places Pichler Visits (Flat no. 1 Army shop Bakery Bed articles store Growshop Tailor Soccer club’s fan store no. 1 Haircutter Grocery store no. 1 Furniture store no. 1 Piano maker General merchandise store Shoemaker Swinger club no.1 Cafe no. 2 Pet shop Clubbing hall no. 1 Flat no. 3 Wool trade Ethno fashion store Furniture store no. 3 Flat no. 6 Flat no. 10 Flat no. 11 Natural history museum Public school’s classroom Railway coach Street dust Car mechanic Fine art photo gallery Catholic church no. 2 Formula One fanstore Psychotherapist’s ordination Toy shop Fashion store no. 6 Art museum no. 2 Gas station Police station Amusement park, shooting gallery Subway station no. 2 Soccer club’s fanstore no.2 Cinema Kindergarten Fashion store no. 4 Human navel’s fluff) where the photos were taken all across Vienna.So what does a closer Examination of the list tell us.
There are personal Places ,Commercial Places, Professional Places, and ending with the Human body itself so this is a taxonomy of the inside of human habitation and the dust it produces. As a physical book it is Impressive well made with a semi transparent first inner page and the Quality of the photos are impressive and evoke a certain sense of the place of the different dusts visited. But the graphic choice needs to be questioned if a catalog it is in fact that, the photos themselves are a taxonomy so then why use one whole page just for the label , and this brings us back to the initial statements. Gallery Catalog vs Photobook Graphically the books choices seem questionable. Both from a Catalog perspective and a photobook perspective. Even if one acknowledges that like a gallery show one must linger undisturbed with the print of each photo and contemplate the same which one must surely do as there is visual information to contemplate in these images.
A way of using a content page or an index at the end would definitely shorten the book. In fact the book does then catalog the photos at the end, may they not have done the same with the Titles.The Question that seems to be grappled with is, can we have two images to contemplate side by side and would the viewer be distracted. I think not, given the White space and the imaginary circle including the Image of Dust.While the photographs are well constructed and observed there seems to be a seeping presence of Kafka that other Austro Hungarian and in the old Germanic word DUST that seems to seep into the work and historic baggage that Klaus Pichler seems to be working out, in most of his work. The essay written by Josef Haslinger Professor and Writer touches upon an animatory and life/death dichotomy of dust with all it's mites.
Here is (Wikipedia) take on Human Interiors and Mites In colder climates, occupants seal even the smallest air gaps, which keeps fresh air from outside from circulating inside the house. Because of this, it is essential to have a plan for managing dust and airflow.House dust mites are present indoors wherever humans live. Positive tests for dust mite allergies are extremely common among people with asthma. Dust mites are microscopic arachnids whose primary food is dead human skin cells, but they do not live on living people. They and their faeces and other allergens they produce are major constituents of house dust, but because they are so heavy they are not suspended for long in the air. They are generally found on the floor and other surfaces until disturbed (by walking, for example). It could take somewhere between twenty minutes and two hours for dust mites to settle back down out of the air. Dust mites are a nesting species that prefers a dark, warm, and humid climate. They flourish in mattresses, bedding, upholstered furniture, and carpets. Their feces include enzymes that are released upon contact with a moist surface, which can happen when a person inhales, and these enzymes can kill cells within the human body. House dust mites did not become a problem until humans began to use textiles, such as western style blankets and clothing.
It does challenge us to look at dust anew but the disjuncture between the words and Images seem acute.and the chasm cannot be traversed alone by either words or photos. maybe multi scale (Macros) Micro and Pano with time lapse videos of dust accumulation is worth looking at .But given what photography is and what the photobook wants to be and assert Itself in the 21st century this book needs to still justify that argument.As a simple visual record of dust in different places.this book does stand out and is served well with the technical proficiency and finesse of the experienced Klaus Pichler furthering the observational looking of the Viennese tradition. But this book leaves me with more answers and directions for investigation than it does with clear solutions. I feel a start has been made, a Taxonomy begun, a place found for dust. Art had already found for garbage, and individual consumption and it's detritus, and the like, photography seems to now be coming to the dust party.Science and Literature and Poetry have been at the dust party a long time I feel there is a lot more that can be done, in this area from Overlays of Cosmic with Human ( The cover Image hints at that) to the dust of Individuals and cities and weather phenomenon, this photobook is a ninvitation to let the Visual Dust Studies Begin.
Synonyms to the Word Dust occurring in book use
And to finally end it seems like the 1800's preoccupation with the word purity was already overtaken in that century. But will it see a resurgence in ours only time will tell. Till then lets meet at the next Dustup.