Books on Books #10 Zdeněk Tmej’s Abeceda duševního prázdna (The Alphabet of Spiritual Emptiness) published in 1946 enables a rare look, from a captive’s perspective, inside a Nazi forced labor camp in Breslau, Poland during World War 11. It is remarkable that Tmej, a Czech citizen made to work for the Nazi war effort for two years, was allowed to photograph at all, let alone describe the psychological stasis of his experience with the poetic voice that these portraits and still-lifes convey. Books on Books #10 presents every page spread from this extremely rare and fragile document including the original texts by Alexandra Urbanová translated for the first time into English. Czech photo historian Vladimír Birgus contributes a contemporary essay on Tmej called Zdeněk Tmej’s Conscripted Labor in Germany.
Yutaka Takanashi Photography 1965-74 is beautifully realized with three different cover images silk screened onto the cloth of the boards. A yellow translucent dustjacket wraps the book and the color I have been told reflects the tone off an exhibition poster from the first solo exhibit of this work in Japan in the 1980s. The printing of the plates is also exquisite – a modern offset interpretation of the original’s lush gravure which remains rich and clean. The design reflects the twisting and turning of the original (horizontals oriented vertically) but with additional gatefolds for a few of the horizontal pictures. It was printed in an edition of only 500, 30 of which come signed and numbered with a print. An additional 100 were signed and numbered by Takanashi. I strongly recommend this book if you can get one. They are a bit pricey but I assure you it is because these books were expensive to produce.