First, we would like to say THANK YOU for everyone who stopped by the New York Art Book Fair and visited us. It was a blast getting to meet so many amazing people. Second, we are thrilled to share a review of our newest photobook, Burnish by Isabelle Evertse, from David Gauthier, head of Cultural Affairs at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure (ENS) in Lyon, France. The review originally appeared in french here on the webpage, lacritique.org. Below is an english translation of the review and we still have a few copies of Burnish for sale here:
You receive an envelope. You take it in your hands. It is unstamped. Its content is already revealed. Waiting for you. It is no doubt as old as the photographer. Black birds fly against a grey sky: it’s the cover of the fragile letter Isabelle Evertse addresses to her father, to the readers. The letter is entitled BURNISH. The title is preceded by a note from the author: The 1990’s and later today. A girl. Her father. They barely met. Two countries. Two continents. Thousands of kilometres. A few letters. Interpretations.
In the meantime, the mane of a white horse eating grass has appeared. Let’s slowly turn the pages, without precipitation. An epistolary of time awaits us. We enter the intimacy of a father-daughter relationship, a raw sensitivity “à fleur de peau” as the first flower motif envelope evokes.
The envelopes have crossed seas, oceans, countries… they are all precious. They are all carefully opened with a sharp letter opener and all have been meticulously kept, in a small secret box. Could it be the famous “black box” of this beautiful object? With precaution, we continue to turn the pages, without any rush. We discover what Isabelle Evertse gives away about herself. A story, hers, through photographs, regardless whether they are fictional or real.
She tells us through images of wilted flowers soaking in the used water of a small glass, portraits of her father (we imagine him), almost anonymous self portraits, affectionate landscapes, crumpled paper, so crumpled that they draw garments, white shirts, white blouses (and yet some are receipts), a complete number of four envelopes including the one which contains the book, letters whose inks have evaporated and fly off the paper as the aviator in the following photograph placed under a yellowed paper and then suddenly a banana skin thrown over a bowl with it’s spoon!
Yes, all this is very enigmatic. Isabelle Evertse gives us another key, the last one, at the end of reading BURNISH. Burnish (bûrnsh) tr.v. burnished, burnishing, burnishes 1. To make smooth or glossy by rubbing; polish. n. A smooth glossy finish or appearance; luster. There you have it, the book could end on this definition that could open Pandora’s box. “The Happy End” if there should be one, is elsewhere, no doubt in the last envelope with the floral back (very Victorian, very Laura Ashley) but it’s content will not be revealed to us.
Burnish a very personal little book proposed by Isabelle Evertse. It is composed with tact, in its spirit as much as in its materiality. The American editor, Empty Stretch published it this summer 2013. It is part of those objects so difficult to define that it captivates you. Oh, damn! I forget! The last page ends with words, hand written sentences on the very Hitchcock like motif that is the cover. Don’t dream! Don’t count on me! I won’t say anything on these final words! They belong to the almost confidential world of the photographer, which you need to discover, on your own, parsimoniously. I will say no more.
Already what a privilege to discover her epistolary imagination yet so real! A small precious book to the image of Isabelle Evertse’s pale skin and blonde hair, everything is fineness and delicate in her proposal, skilfully layed out by the editor.
The envelope is cruelly attached to the book (you will not be able to put the book inside the envelope! I assure you!), the fineness of a Bible paper so thin that you turn the pages without moistening them of fear to smudge the ink… and yet the images are magnificently reproduced. There are overlaps even. Everything holds together and slides fluidly… The rhythmic of an intelligently and poetically composed sequence, object-book, object-letters, object-envelope, the exceptional book of an author. If a dark double page, nocturnal (yet the red on the tree is so significant) punctuates the harmony of the diverse image formats, themes and emptiness (blank pages like stage directions invite you to take aback in silence, to catch your breath before diving back into the neither troubled nor clear waters), you can only be sensitive to the message of a “Proust’s madeleine”, announced by the numerous dead leaves, often recurring in this letter.
Whilst I write this letter, I see yellow-necked chickadees perched on the flowering rosebay, on the look out for a “je ne sais quoi”. I emerge from this book-letter immersed with a strange feeling… as if my mother-son relationship was back in jolts. But, we all have a secret garden. Isabelle Evertse has hers; she made a small modest book of it, humble yet so beautiful, so “poignant” that life is perpetual movement… and hope. Rare are such singular books by their form and content… but is it not also the fact that this project is one of a life in it’s course, a young photographer soon to be a mother, published at a moment in her life where the maturity of the project makes it remarkable.
- David Gauthier