‘We would have preferred not to make Intensive Care,’ write the makers on the penultimate page. Intensive Care is about grief. Indeed, it is grief. Two victims of a road accident, two young people in their thirties. The sister of one is a photographer, the other’s best friend is a writer. Balancing on the edge of intimacy – ‘there was a lot that could be photographed, but even more that could not’ – together they created this ‘little book’. For that is the way the panel saw it: a little book.
Yet it isn’t the format that’s so small: it is the whole tone of it. Calling it a little book is a compliment. Intensive Care is a specimen of the individualization of how we deal with death. While this is a development that is not without its detractors, that was not what concerned the panel. The makers have drawn heavily on the toolbox of the twenty-first-century book designer. Photographer and writer alternate, each on her own paper. Some of the photo pages have been trimmed to a narrower measure. Binding in the Swiss style, sewing thread in three colours, the title on the cover lasered. And yet: a little book.
The photos have an empty, glassy feeling. One panel member was annoyed at them for this, but the others thought it was simply the effect of the strip lighting. ‘Leaf through this little book and you can’t help thinking this is not at all where you want to be.’