Review: Andres Gonzalez, Somewhere

Andres Gonzalez's book Somewhere is a deliberately slippery beast. As its title implies it is not about a specific place, but more about the idea of place itself. It begins and ends in an airplane, as if to make the point that it will be taking us on a series of journeys. These photographs were taken all over the world (Mexico, China, Namibia, Ukraine...) over the course of a decade, but Somewhere is clearly not a travelogue. There are no images of the Great Wall of China or of the Namibian desert, but rather of the late afternoon light pouring into a bedroom or of an anonymous shopping mall parking lot. The book doesn't follow a narrative or focus on a single subject, but instead it seems to have been structured to mimic the way we remember, where one memory will lead to the recollection of another from an entirely different time and place. The design by Dutch graphic designer extraordinaire, Sybren Kuiper, emphasizes the overlap between these moments even further by interweaving sections with different sized pages to create a subtle flow of images that slowly appear and disappear.

Like the subconscious, Somewhere does not neatly catalogue memories of different times and places, but instead allows them to shuffle together into a more complicated and confused whole. Much of what we see is revealed through a window or behind curtains and the reflective matte paper stock itself contributes to this impression of distance from the subject. While it deals with many of photography's major themes—place, time, memory, dreams and reality—it isn't interested in making any grandiose statements. It is a quiet and modest book (it fits nicely in the palm of your hand), a book of emotions and atmosphere rather than of concept or ideas. It successfully conjures up the world of dreams and of memory, but without offering any particular resolution: Gonzalez's images obstruct as much as they reveal, and the impression that the book leaves is elusive and even a little frustrating... an intense dream that you cannot quite remember.

Andres Gonzalez, Somewhere, (Self-published, 84 pages, hard cover, 2012, edition of 700)

Rating: Recommended