Culture & Communication
AFTERWORD BY STEPHEN MAYES
« This work began when my marriage ended, my father’s cancer returned, and I became a nomad. I traveled constantly to take pictures and make films. This is a document of personal diaspora, made with the device that, in linking me to those I hold dear, became my mobile/home … These are my postcards home, as I live homeless. »
Henry Jacobson, 2012
Postcards Home (Daylight Books, October 2013) is the culmination of three years that photographer Henry Jacobson spent living on the road, making films around the world. This nomadic phase allowed for only limited access to those Henry held dear, and the varied array of subject matter found here is consequently a record of a period of personal upheaval; of the endings and beginnings of very important relationships; of illnesses and deaths and births.
Henry writes: « IPhone pictures have filled the space once held by the postcards I received from my father while he was on the road. With them, I navigate the digital/literal landscape of contemporary society. » All of the works in this book were taken with an iPhone, and most were immediately sent to someone Henry cared about, or were shared within his broader social network. These deeply personal images are at times beautiful, poignant, haunting, quirky, and humorous.
Henry presents most of the postcards in pairs, but the connections between them are not literal, instead they relate to the emotional response elicited from the viewer and to similarities in colors, shapes, and mood. In his essay, Stephen Mayes writes that in Henry’s postcards » … The messages are less about where the author is and more about his state of mind, and in describing the locations the captions do little more than inform the reader that the author was away from home. You wouldn’t necessarily recognize Sarajevo from the image, and neither is this the intent. »
Mayes compares analog postcards from the 20th century that sent the wistful message « Wish you were here » and that spoke to distance and the impossibility to connect, to Jacobson’s 21st century smartphone postcards that are immediate and intimate and send the message « I am with you. » He writes « This puts the smartphone camera in a very different role from that of the traditional film camera, which served to create historical records, and transforms the smartphone camera into an expressive instrument in a way that even a single-function digital camera cannot emulate … Although these postcards are snatched from reality and now printed on these pages, these images are not documents of memory in the traditional way of photography. The images were made to share, to create a connection, not to describe. »
Henry’s postcards include several photographs of the artist’s father, photographer Jeff Jacobson, taken after his cancer returned. The caption next to Henry’s portrait of his father is a son’s lament: « What will I do when you are gone? »
Such synergy of photography and communication was facilitated by mobile technology, a development that is transforming society’s understanding of the medium of photography from a frozen moment to a visual interaction between individuals, making Postcards Home important both from a personal and historical perspective.
Pre-Launch Event in New York During Photoville
Postcards Home will have a pre-launch in New York City on Saturday, September 21, 2013 at Brooklyn Bridge Park, the site of the second annual Photoville, along with Daylight’s three other fall 2013 books by Sarah Christianson (Homeplace), Sara Macel (My the Road Rise to Meet You), and Katie Murray (All The Queens Men). There will be a panel discussion with the four artists entitled Family Matters: Photography In Close Relation from 5:30 until 6:30 p.m., followed by a book party that also serves to celebrate Daylight’s 10th Anniversary. The events are in partnership with Photoville and the Brooklyn Book Festival. The party will feature live music by New Jersey based group Thomas Wesley Stern.
Henry Jacobson is a photographer and filmmaker based in New York and Washington, D.C. He is the cinematographer, director, and producer on many documentary films. Publications include, The New York Times, Zink, Marie Claire Italy, GOOD, PDN, Visura, Hollywood Reporter, Filler, Untitled, Christian Science Monitor, WINk Magazine, Billionaire Magazine, and D-Journal. For more information, go here.
Stephen Mayes served as director of VII Photo in New York until May 2013, and has been secretary to the jury of the World Press Photo Contest since 2004. In 1993 he served as chair of the jury. Mayes has worked at the top levels of photography for 25 years, in the areas of journalism, art, commercial photography and fashion, working as manager of Network Photographers. Prior to joining VII, Mayes was a senior vice president at Getty Images, leading the creative department and developing commercial content strategies, including Getty’s early foray into journalism. Later he was senior vice-president at eyestorm.com, representing high-end artists in the consumer market. He also worked with Art And Commerce, as director of the image archive, representing top fashion and art photographers for commercial licensing. Mayes regularly writes and broadcasts on the ethics and realities of photographic practice.
Photo captions (in order presented):
A congregation, NYC 2011; I’m watching, NYC 2012 Chichu, Naoshima, Japan 2012; All the angles, Tate Modern, London 2012 Green driver, NYC, 2011; Silhouette of my father, Brooklyn, NY 2011 Pixeleye, the Internet 2011
Hbk, 11 x 7 in. / 96 pgs / 64 color.
Daylight is a non-profit organization dedicated to publishing art and photography books. By exploring the documentary mode along with the more conceptual concerns of fine art, Daylight’s uniquely collectible publications work to revitalize the relationship between art, photography, and the world-at- large. For information, visit www.daylightbooks.org. To check out Daylight Digital, visit www.daylightdigital.com.
In collaboration with Andrea Smith Public Relations – International PR