Joan Fontcuberta: The Photography of Nature / The Nature of Photography

“Joan Fontcuberta is one of the most highly acclaimed international wildlife photographer” it says somewhere in The Photography of Nature & The Nature of Photography, so it’s got to be true. Just like the story about the fossils of mermaids at the end of which this sentence leads off the author’s bio. You might now be tempted to inject that mermaids don’t exist and never did. But Fontcuberta has pictures, and the article, convincingly written, makes a strong case in point. There are quite a few other things you didn’t know about in the book. There’s a early-evolution centaur, where you have a monkey instead of a human torso attached to a horse (any biologists reading this will please forgive my somewhat sloppy description). Or there’s Soviet cosmonaut Ivan Istochnikov, lost in space (along with his companion, a dog named Kloka).

Catalan photographer Joan Fontcuberta is the 33rd recipient of the prestigious Hasselblad
Foundation International Award in Photography.

To celebrate the award MACK and The Hasselblad Foundation are publishing a collection of
six of Fontcuberta’s most iconic series including: Herbarium (1984) and Fauna (1987), dealing
with botanical and biological findings of newly discovered species; Constellations (1993),
images of previously undiscovered stars and their stardust; Sputnik (1997), which tells the tale
of a Russian cosmonaut still lost in space; also included are Sirens (2000), an investigative
project for National Geologic on the finding of the Hydropithecus (mermaid) fossils, and
Orogenesis (2002) in which Fontcuberta explores landscapes using Terragen technologies.

Fontcuberta’s photography is itself about photography’s own workings, and with each series
he challenges the audience’s trust in the veracity of the medium and its function as a system
of representation. Confronting our anxieties about that system, Fontcuberta’s careful
fabrications are laced with clues and inconsistencies – the photographer himself even
appears, disguised as Hans von Kubert or Joan Fontana. In exposing the various artifices of
the photographic medium, he asks how and why photography acquires a seductive
truthfulness in the eyes of its viewers. As Jorge Wagensberg suggests, ‘The mere possibility
that it could be a Fontcuberta is an invitation to think; in other words, it makes the believer
sceptical and the incredulous believe’.

© Joan Fontcuberta

The book is a survey of Fontcuberta’s oeuvre displaying his genius as photographer, essayist,
humorist and fantasist alike. In teasing fashion, the book can be flipped to reveal an essay
section, with texts by Geoffrey Batchen and Jorg Wagensberg that examine and unpick the
myths that Fontcuberta has so meticulously constructed.

• The Photography of Nature / The Nature of Photography by Joan Fontcuberta
• Embossed printed hardcover
• 21 cm x 26 cm
• 224 pages
• Price €50.00 £45.00 $55.00
• ISBN: 978-1-907946-51-6
• Publication date: 25th October 2013


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