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Mike Mandel: Zone Eleven
With photographs by Ansel Adams. Text by Erin O'Toole.
A trove of unseen and uncommon Ansel Adams photographs, assembled by Mike Mandel from archival collections
A New York Times Book Review 2021 holiday gift guide pick
“Zone Eleven” alludes to Ansel Adams’ Zone System, a method for controlling exposure of the negative in order to obtain a full range of tonality in the photographic print—from the deepest black of Zone 0 to the brightest highlight in Zone 10. “Zone Eleven” is a metaphor coined by artist Mike Mandel in his challenge to create a book of Adams’ photographs outside of the bounds of his personal work. Many of these photographs were found in the archives of Adams' commercial and editorial assignments, and from his experimentation with the new Polaroid material of the times.
For this book, Mandel has unearthed images that are unexpected for Adams, and created a new context of facing-page relationships and sequence. Zone Eleven is the product of Mandel’s research into over 50,000 Adams images located within four different archives, from which he presents a body of Adams’ work that was largely unknown until now.
Mike Mandel is well known for his collaboration with Larry Sultan from the 1970s to the 1990s. They published Evidence in 1977, a collection of 59 photographs chosen from more than two million images that the artists viewed at the archives of government agencies and tech-oriented corporations. Conceptually, Zone Eleven is a companion book to Evidence. As Evidence reframes the institutional documentary photograph with new context and meaning, Zone Eleven responds to the audience expectation of “the iconic Ansel Adams nature photograph.” But Mandel selects images that do not fit that expectation. Zone Eleven is a book of Ansel Adams images that surprisingly speak to issues of social relations, the built environment and alienation.
"Fence Painting, University of California, Riverside,"1966. Sweeney/Rubin Ansel Adams Fiat Lux Collection, California Museum of Photography, University of California, Riverside. © Regents of the University of California
PRAISE AND REVIEWS
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Zone Eleven is a book of Ansel Adams images that surprisingly speak to issues of social relations, the built environment and alienation...Mandel has seen something special in each of them that others might overlook and transformed them through canny selection and juxtaposition.
Using Adams (of all photographers) to make an argument about the enduring power of appropriation and recontextualization is a flash of risk taking few would even consider, but Mandel has pulled it off with panache and grace. Zone Eleven is the kind of photobook that simmers with so much intelligence that you’ll want to push it on Adams fans and skeptics with nearly equal enthusiasm. It thoughtfully asks us to question not only what we think we know about Adams, but also to broadly consider the many ways a photograph can function.
Mandel was given free access to Adams’ back catalog, pouring over more than 50,000 pictures. His title 'Zone Eleven' signals an extension of the master’s oeuvre... Mandel’s findings indeed expand the Adams territory.
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FROM THE ARTBOOK BLOG
CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 12/4/2021
Featured image is reproduced from Mike Mandel: Zone Eleven, the new release from Damiani Books launching this weekend at Artbook @ MoMA PS1 Bookstore. Collecting conceptual photographer Mike Mandel's tight edit of 83 duotone images from a trove of more than 50,000 mostly previously-unseen, atypical early Ansel Adams photographs from four different archives, the release of this renegade photobook is definitely a publishing event in and of itself. "This book is a collaboration of sorts between Mandel and Adams," Erin O'Toole writes, "except that the photographs Mandel selected for inclusion were not sanctioned by Adams for this purpose, and are likely ones he himself never would have chosen. Adams shot the pictures, but Mandel has adopted them and given them new meaning through sequencing."
IMAGE CREDIT: "Miss Barbara August at Langley Porter Clinic, University of California, San Francisco," 1964. Sweeney/Rubin Ansel Adams Fiat Lux Collection, California Museum of Photography, University of California, Riverside. © Regents of the University of California.
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USD $55.00 | CAN $75
Pub Date: 11/30/2021
Active | In stock
USD $45.00 | CAN $60 UK £ 40
Pub Date: 4/30/2010
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