I for Imagine

Marc Riboud and Catherine Chaine, trans. from the French by Linda Asher. Tara (tarabooks.com), $34.95 (160p) ISBN 978-93-80340-10-4
Award-winning photographer Riboud (The Three Banners of China) and Chaine, a journalist and author of children's books, reconceptualize the alphabet book into a moving photographic journey around the world with images of extraordinary political struggle and ordinary moments of humanity, wonder, and imagination. The textured black-and-white images span Riboud's career, from the 1950s to the present, and they're refreshed and given surprising twists by the verbal prompts. As Chaine writes, by "exploring letters and words, you'll also learn to read the world.... The words will turn into images, you will ‘see' the sadness in the eyes of a young Chinese soldier." The conceit works best when the whimsy of the alphabet book ("B for Bowler Hat," "G for Game," "J for Joy") meets stark, searing images of suffering: "F for Fatigue," pre-sents a Cuban laborer in a factory gripping a chain, eyes cast downward; in "U for Unjust," four Ghanian men carry a white man in a chair off of a boat through shallow waters. The book provides dual pleasure—the beauty of the photographs themselves and the resilience they so frequently depict—and how the interplay of image and text can produce a dizzying range of responses. (June)
Reviewed on: 03/14/2011
Release date: 05/01/2011
Genre: Nonfiction
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