Profile: MONO, Volume 1

 © Sofía López Mañán

Gomma Magazine has announced the eight winners of their Call for Entries for MONO, Volume 1:

Daisuke Yokota
Tricia Lawless Murray
Francesco Merlini
Jan von Holleben
Jukka-pekka Jalovaara
Sofía López Mañán
Stephane C.

We're using Gomma's announcement as an opportunity to sit down with Luca Desienna, Chief Editor of Gomma, to talk with him about MONO, as well as to showcase some of the images that will be presented in the book.

Gomma was formed in 2004 by four artists aspiring to create a new publishing space for both photographers and visual artists that was free from the limitations that come with requiring profitability. Gomma Magazine launched shortly afterwards in 2005 as a high quality photography magazine showcasing renowned artists such as Antoine D'Agata and Daido Moriyama along with promising talents. The printed magazine ceased publication, but an iPad app is due to be released soon and the website has expanded to become an important hub and resource for photographers. A major site redevelopment with new interactive and networking possibilities for members is in process.

In 2011 Gomma Books Ltd. was incorporated by the Gomma team with the aim of publishing a limited number of high quality photography titles per year. MONO is one of the titles planned for the Gomma Books Ltd. 2012 catalog. MONO will be a 250-page hardback book showcasing whom they consider "the most talented contemporary black and white photographers" and a celebration of "that beautiful and timeless art medium that is black & white photography." It will be published in three volumes - Volume One will be published in November.

© Kim Thue, from "Dead Traffic"

© Trent Parke

© Marco Vernaschi, untitled, from the series "Placebo", 2011

© Roger Ballen, Mimicry, 2005, courtesy Roger Ballen

fototazo: Where did the idea to make MONO come from?

Luca Desienna: As with almost anything that comes out of Gomma's brains, we decided to create MONO because we needed it!

We've been looking to buy something like it from a bookshop for quiet some time, but haven't found anything quite like it. So we decided to build it ourselves. I think it has to do with the gaps and the needs that we encounter along the way. If we needed it, then we believed somebody else out there would need it also.

f: What was the process of making the selections from submissions?

LD: The selection process has consisted of two different ways. On one side we've been selecting photographers that we know and admire and consider for their high quality work; on the other side we've been selecting photographers through a Call for Entries. We decided to open this photo contest because we were hungry of new faces and talents. We wanted to find some uncooked names.

© Francesco Merlini

© Maki

f: MONO Volume One is seen as the first of 3 books. How will future volumes be shaped and expand upon the ideas presented in Volume 1?

LD: MONO has been in our heads for many years, so it is structured on a very well oiled concept and idea, therefore all three volumes will be carrying the same style, design, and touchability. This way it will look bold and solid and stylish. A very nice trilogy to collect.

f: With so many images submitted, why did you decide to select just eight of the photographers as award winners?

LD: I think eight winners is a good balanced value. This way the eight selected photographers will receive an appropriate amount of exposure and also a decent physical space in the actual book. If we were to select more then it would become a little bit inflated.

I need to add something about this Call for Entries, because the amount of submissions has been truly overwhelming, I mean we only advertised the contest through Gomma sites, Facebook and a couple of websites and a total of 1,084 photographers applied to the contest generating a staggering 4,784 images.

Therefore the selection has been fierce, these results do not mean to be a judgment of anybody's work. The nature of MONO is that of a very selective project and we wish to everyone that has submitted the very best in the continuation of their practice.

© Stephanie C.

© Daisuke Yokota

© Jan von Holleben

f: Tell us more about the idea behind publishing a selection of new and emerging work alongside the images of more established photographers.

LD: One of Gomma's aims has always been that of hunting and exposing emerging talents - besides the idea of creating publications that celebrate photography.

We are not here for egotism or profitability, we are here for quality. And even the established photographers that have been selected for MONO have been chosen because of the nature of their work, rather than their CVs.

The ruler here is the work itself. And these works need to be flowing within the book to create a journey that is visually cohesive. The overall feel of MONO will be that of a beautiful river flowing with outstanding work, a poetic and visually enchanting journey.

f: Publishers obviously have to conclude that what they publish will have a strong market. What assured you that MONO was a book worth investing in and that will have a strong appeal to both photography book collectors and the photography world more generally?

LD: Maybe we are being naive here, but we believe that if you do something right it'll be successful. And MONO as far as I know is filling a gap, and it could become an important reference in the photography world for years to come. With the outstanding work and the overall production quality we really hope it will be well received.

Keep in mind that MONO will be a hardback book with a cloth cover and hot silver stamped titles, 200 gsm premium art matte paper and 250 pages. So we believe it's a good product to purchase and collect.

Gomma Books Ltd. is a bijou publishing house, we haven't got thousands of pounds to invest in marketing, therefore we really hope that the work itself and the way MONO is built will be its main promoter.

© Devin Yalkin, Venus in Furs, 2008

© Jacob Aue Sobol

f: Do you have a particular hope with the book in terms of seeing or experiencing black and white photography differently than in other compilations of black and white work? What sets MONO apart?

LD: MONO Volume One is focusing on photographers that are daring and visionary, talents that have a very personal view on life and on photography itself, and that put their life on the actual stage. Artists that stretch the habitual and twist the very practice of photography to represent their world and their visions.

We are also moving away from genre boundaries; MONO is not about portraiture, or documentary or conceptualism. It is about contemporary black and white photography and as such it creates an important snapshot of the modern monochrome image making.

Gomma Magazine's MONO, Volume 1 will be published in November 2012. It will include essays from Yasmina Reggad, Christian Caujolle, Peggy Sue Amison, Wayne Ford, Tom Griggs, Joerg Colberg, and John Matkowsky. A full list of selected established photographers appearing in MONO includes Antoine D'Agata, Daido Moriyama, Sandro Miller, Giancarlo Ceraudo, Lorenzo Castore, Michael Ackerman, Scot Sothern, Chris Rain, Katia Chausheva, Jacob Aue Sobol, Marco Vernaschi, Gabrielle Duplantier, Roger Ballen, Anders Petersen, Keizo Kitajima, Andy Spyra, Oliver Pin Fat, Kim Thue, Victor Cobo, Margaret De Lange, Tomasz Lazar, Mayra Martell, Sebastian Liste, Devin Yalkin, Susu Laroche, Pep Bonet, and Trent Parke.

© Tomasz Lazar

© Tricia Lawless Murray