Steamy Windows and Distorted Rearviews: How Photographic Images Can Function In Artist Books

‘Post’/ Marta Zgierska


A photograph is commonly considered to function as either a ‘window’, through which the exterior world can be seen in all its presence and reality or, alternatively, it is to be understood as a ‘mirror’ to the photographer’s sensibility. While both applications are concerned with the recording of an external event, the latter serves as the expression of an internal experience.

Visual artists, however, are actively exploring a blurry middle ground in this apparent dichotomy, by means of a narrative structure – more and more so through the form of a book. In order to further elaborate on this matter, two recent publications are discussed here: Post (Actes Sud, 2016) by Marta Zgierska, and The Epic Love Story of a Warrior (SPBH, 2016) by Peter Puklus.

By the end of the 1970s, John Szarkowski – responsible for the photography department of the Museum of Modern Art in New York at the time – proposed a clear distinction between photographs that either function as a ‘window on the world’ or, by contrast, as a ‘mirror to the soul’. Both of these applications could share a certain aesthetic ideal, but when juxtaposed, the difference in the artist’s intention is more apparent: the ‘window’ group of images reports on actual events, while the ‘mirror’ section includes depictions of something that is altogether more transcendental; they’re images that reflect an artistic need to symbolise an inner state of being. […]

Full article in: GUP#52, Mirror