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Photo book! Photo-book! Photobook! | Marathon
Research 5–6 May 2022
Topdown view: Photo book! Photo-book! Photobook! Marathon, May 5–6, 2022. Image courtesy of A4 Arts Foundation.
Title Photo book! Photo-book! Photobook! | Marathon Dates 5–6 May 2022 Location Gallery Tagline In a series of exchanges – culminating in a two-day marathon – Sean O'Toole invites practitioner-friends into conversation; asking after the photobook as process, logic and form. Credits

Invited practitioners | 18 March 2022:
Johno Mellish
Michael Tymbios
Zander Blom

Invited practitioners | 31 March 2022:
Margaret Courtney-Clarke
Virginia MacKenny

Invited practitioners | Friday 22 April:
Nathi Sihlophe
Barbara Wildenboer
Nontsikelelo ‘Lolo’ Veleko
Nicole Fraser
Marguerite Moon
Alistair Whitton

Invited practitioners | Friday 29 April:
Pieter Hugo
Jodi Bieber
Alice Mann
Joshua Chuang

Invited practitioners | Thursday 5 May:
Sue Williamson
Jo Ractliffe
Jabulani Dhlamini
Edgar Pieterse
Ashley Walters
Mikhael Subotzky
Patrick Waterhouse

Invited practitioners | Friday 6 May:
Michael Mack
Gabrielle Guy
Rory Bester
Ben Johnson
Paul Weinberg
David Southwood
Hedley Twidle
Peter McDonald

Twenty-eight practitioners – photographers, artists, publishers, editors, collectors – joined Sean O’Toole in a wandering enquiry of the photobook on the occasion of his research exhibition, Photo book! Photo-book! Photobook!

The main event – suitably termed a 'marathon' – was a gesture of endurance scholarship, with Sean interviewing fourteen participants in relay, engaging in hours-long discussions with each. The accumulated conversations will be distilled as research towards a forthcoming book.

Earlier sessions included early-career photographers and recent graduates, as well as veteran explorers and practitioners. One such session resulted in a zine that was made in real-time over the conversation's duration.

These collected thoughts, anecdotes and intimacies offer insight into the photobook in all its variable forms.

"The book is a vector of ideas."
– Paul Weinberg

"I was hungry for pictures, to see more. The photobook proposes itself as the vehicle that most satisfied my desire."
– Joshua Chuang

"Whenever I have an opportunity to teach, showing students photobooks is very inspiring to youth, that they can tell their own stories in their own way. Everywhere I go, I take the books with me." 
– Jabulani Dhlamini

"Photobooks, to my mind, are the ultimate form of the photograph. Having a book, in the end, is having a legacy – books last longer than people. You can push for how you want your work to be seen and understood. In an exhibition, there are always competing ideas, always other voices. In a book, it can belong entirely to you."
– Jodi Beiber

"The Ponte photobook offered variable ways of thinking and learning. We had so much material that needed to find a form. Bookmaking was the brain, the dummies were ways of rationalising and making sense of what we were working with."
– Mikhael Subotzky

"South Africa is not one facet. It has many different ways of seeing and being seen. What is the ‘wonderland’ that is South Africa? There are a lot of truths about South Africa, a lot of truths that I wanted to document in a book form."
– Nontsikelelo ‘Lolo’ Veleko

"I learned about pacing – about the lapse of time – and rhythm in making a photobook, through music."
– Ashley Walters

"It seems to be the essential labour of the photobook: editing and sequencing."
– Sean O'Toole

"I reworked old material towards a narrative that was neither document nor fiction. You can mess with the photograph in a photobook in a way you can’t with a monograph."
– Jo Ractliffe

"A book is a physical thing; a container of thought and a landscape in which to ‘walk and wander’."
– Alistair Whitton

"I wanted the book to be held in its own room, to be fully housed in its cover."
– Nicole Fraser