Here we have a self-published photobook that wasn’t only financed by crowdfunding but also issued in anything but a small print run. You just have to have the courage of your convictions. And you need all the right specialists: from a good editor to an extremely skilled and careful bookbinder.
The raw documentary images of the ‘jungle’ outside Calais instantly draw you into this book about the creative strength displayed by refugees in turning their camp into what is almost a real city. Once you properly get into it, it turns out to be a masterpiece of collaboration, not just between author, photographer and designer but also with the binder – particularly with regard to the slightly narrower pages that appear from time to time. These are extremely difficult to bind without getting pressure marks in the paper. These pages, apart from being printed on thinner paper, are cut flush on the vertical axis even before folding, only after folding and binding being trimmed at head and tail. The result is a beautifully irregular fore-edge and a sublimely bound book.
Turning to the photography, it’s quite close to the bone and reveals tremendous involvement with the subject. There’s a nice balance between pictorial narrative and typography, which is built up subtly from bottom to top – in fact, just as a house in a town is built. The elegant Plantin typeface in combination with Century Schoolbook is a nice choice, as is the dust jacket in Wibalin, which evokes an association with tents and canvas.
The panel were unanimous about this book, in every detail sublimely designed (almost too beautifully!), about a dismal and shocking episode of the times we live in.