Cherry Hill Reviewed by Gabrielle Rael
Cherry Hill’s semi-gloss pages are artfully bound in a paper-wrapped, printed cover whose design is reminiscent of blue-and-white porcelain. The patterns depict the artist’s life including a variety of cameras that she may have owned at one time, and everyday banal moments of suburban life. The book Cherry Hill, the newest of Jona Frank’s books, is a tale of liberation. As the book progresses, she is released from traditional ideas of gender expression, abysmal interfamilial communication, stigma of mental illness in dated suburbia and of shitty college boyfriends. Jona is no longer tormented by long silences, her mother’s bundles of sticks, and the fool card but, instead driving into a sunrise of self-determination and newly discovered vitality. LIKE by Ryan Debolski (Gnomic Book, Brooklyn), nominated as the Jurors’ Special Mention for First PhotoBook, explores the experiences and relationships of migrant workers in Oman. But rather than focusing on the defining public image of poor working conditions, Debolski depicts men finding agency and connection to the landscape of the beach and companionship in each other—they are as playful as they are introspective.
“The position this work takes is very singular,” juror Stéphanie Solinas affirms, “a book on migrant workers in Oman, where we find a great presence of bodies with a form of sensuality where we expected to find brick walls and deserts. The weave between text and image, bodies and architecture offers a new, unexpected entry into the topic.”