Friday, February 24, 2017

Adrift- Magda Biernat

Recently when in NYC, I made it over to Dashwood Books as is my custom (after a a coupla Cajun Martinis and some blackened catfish at the Great Jones Cafe a block away) and started the monumental but always welcomed task of investigating their entire inventory. Of course, you're always guaranteed to find things that you will both like and love, the only question being, how much can you afford to buy. This time, I actually had some pocket money, and in addition to buying something from their sale bin (more on that one later), I was also able to buy something special, something precious, something I don't usually allow myself the luxury of- a small, but oh so special book called Adrift

Adrift- Magda Biernat

I've become a big fan of small photo books- Jason Eskenazi's Wonderland and Gus Powell's The Lonely Ones  for example. Somehow they come off as more personal, more intimate (as well as more portable). Like all small, precious objects- this one's a tad on the pricey side ($60). And there are several things that make this little gem so special- unfortunately, they are things that cannot all be appreciated online. For it is in large part the physical layout and presentation of the book itself that make it so wonderfully unique! Upon opening, all pages concerning text are adhered to the front cover, the photographs fold out and are adhered accordion style to the back cover.

But it's not all flash and mirrors. Magda Biernat's photographs work on several levels. First of all, it's the most ingenious (and successful) collaboration of color and B&W in one essay that I've ever witnessed. Most times when color and B&W are combined, they are inevitably imbalanced, suffer continuity problems and leave one with a rather unsettled feeling. The balance here is simple, yet strikingly effective: a square format repetition of one photo of an iceberg in colors of muted grey, white and blue, contrasted with a B&W photo of Inupiat Eskimo hunting lodges. The square format emphasizes the overall gestalt of consistency, while the alternate juxtaposition of color vs. B&W lends a pronounced and pleasing contrast. 

The connection? Actually, they are two essays ever so convincingly molded into one. The icebergs are from Antarctica, bits and pieces of larger ice flows that are now becoming all the norm due to global warming. The hunting lodges are from the Arctic, many of them now abandoned as traditional prey have moved on elsewhere, again due to ongoing, man made climate change. 

Content, aesthetics, presentation- all in one beautiful, thought provoking book, lovingly assembled as testament to a worldwide disaster befalling us all...

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