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Photo Book! Photo-Book! Photobook!
Exhibition 11 February–21 May 2022
Installation photograph from the Photo Book! Photo-Book! Photobook! exhibition in A4’s Gallery. On the right, David Goldblatt’s photograph ‘Climbing into kibbles at the shaft-head, the shift gets ready to go down. President Steyn No.4 shaft, Welkom, Orange Free State. 1969’ is mounted on the wall above a display shelf in an area dedicated to photobooks from the years 1967 to 1994.
Installation view: Photo book! Photo-book! Photobook! curated by Sean O'Toole, February 11, 2022–May 20, 2022. Image courtesy of A4 Arts Foundation.
Title Photo Book! Photo-Book! Photobook! Dates 11 February–21 May 2022 Location Gallery Tagline A browsable, research exhibition that explores the photobook in South Africa.
Curator Sean O'Toole

What is a photobook? When does a printed and bound volume composed principally of photographs qualify as photobook? What makes it South African?

Photo book! Photo-book! Photobook! opens with these questions from curator Sean O’Toole, who unpacks his library for the exhibition. The continuation of an ongoing research project by O’Toole, the installation is browsable and open to change. A selection of books work as coordinates; others may find themselves shifted or recalled as the exhibition progresses. A selection of artworks and boundary objects accompany the books.

As the variant spelling of the exhibition’s title suggests, clarity and meaning around this area of bookmaking are still fluid. Rather than sermonise about what precisely constitutes a South African photobook, this browsable exhibition…presents a large and contradictory archive of photobooks made between 1945 and 2022.
– Sean O'Toole (2022)

Photo book! Photo-book! Photobook! is the first exhibition to focus on the South African photobook.

Artwork: Jacobsens Publishers, “Jacobsens” Index of Objectionable Literature (1956–1991). Loose-leaf sheets in hardcover binding. 31 x 22.2 x 5.2 cm. Courtesy of Stellenbosch University Library.