In the exhibition Quickscan NL#01 the Nederlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam brought together recent developments in Dutch photography. The accompanying publication comes in the form of a tabloid: format, paper and ink all smack of newspaper.
So what is an object like this doing in the Best Dutch Book Designs? It is unquestionably a well designed thing, as one member of the panel observed. The fact is that the panel were soon of one mind regarding the qualities of this ‘thing’: it was modern, and it was tasteful. ‘You rather wish the NRC Handelsblad looked like this,’ said someone. Even so, further reflection delivered further insight.
Formally, this thing is not a book; but essentially – or perhaps it would be better to say narratively – it certainly is. It contains a single text, by curator Frits Gierstberg, and that text is a narrative with a beginning, a middle and an end. The images are inserted into the narrative. The box of tricks that newspaper and magazine publishers use to tart up their products and which book designers are only too happy to avail themselves of, is here kept firmly shut. It is the images, confined within their carefully planned sequence, that provide the vivacity. This delivers a pronounced narrative and it is precisely this quality that snared the panel.
Part of the exhibition was a selection of recent photobooks. In this ‘book’ their turn comes at the centre – no coincidence, since that is where a section from the series Fw: is inserted, in which the books are presented in more detail. A nice example of tying in. And it doesn’t even use thread, let alone paste.