Book Review: Pinkhassov’s Sightwalk
Raj Lalwani reviews Sightwalk, Gueorgui Pinkhassov‘s iconic book on his love affair with Japan.
If I were to name three photographers who have had a huge influence on my views on photography, Gueorgui Pinkhassov would be one of them. Maybe it is because of his deeply personal, almost romantic way of seeing and his firm belief in the power of the single image.
Pinkhassov’s abstractions are conversations with light. His photos may make us believe that he isn’t actually interested in the actual subject matter within the frame, and that is what makes him unlike most of his Magnum contemporaries. His approach to photography is not so much about what he is photographing, but about the photograph itself. It’s not reporting, it’s no social critique. What he seems to gravitate towards, is the visuality of singular details that come together to capture a sense of atmosphere.
And that is the reason why Sightwalk, his brief affair with Japan, is a classic. The photographs do not tell you anything about the country, but they make you feel, they make you wonder. If you dare to turn the last page, you want to turn it back and relive the romance. It’s in creating this lyricism that Pinkhassov chooses to handbind the book using Oriental papers and techniques. One may wonder if this oddly faded printmaking approach does justice to the photos that are otherwise fantastically crafted. But the lustre of the paper add to the surreal and romantic nature of the photos, making it seem if the book is a dream. The book is precariously bound by a thread and the binding came off within an hour of me opening the book. It wasn’t a bad copy, I found out, when I researched and realised that this was deliberate. Much like the experience, much like the romance, the photographs in the book, too, come undone.
“The power of our Muse lies in her meaninglessness. Even the style can turn one into a slave if one does not run away from it, and then one is doomed to repeat oneself.” – Gueorgui Pinkhassov
Authors: Gueorgui Pinkhassov
Price: Rs. 2450
You can view some of the photographs that are a part of Sightwalk on the Magnum Photos website, over here.Tags: Raj Lalwani, book review, Gueorgui Pinkhassov, Sightwalk, Phaidon