Let’s Sit Down Before We Go. Bertien van Manen (The Netherlands).
Photographs by Bertien van Manen
Edited by Stephen Gill
Published by MACK, October 2011.
Let’s Sit Down Before We Go follows very personal and intimate journey by Dutch photographer Bertien van Manen. It almost feels like looking at a family photo album. Simple moments depicting everyday life: people in their homes, friends, drinking parties, dinners, snowball fights, families. People on these pictures look like close friends and family, there is almost no boundary between subject and photographer. Manen used a small 35 mm camera. This toy looking camera helped her to become almost unnoticed (a friend rather than photographer). Manen’s beautifully imperfect photographs create homey atmosphere, warmth and intimacy.
The book does not have an introduction or captions: just short mention at the end of the book that pictures were taken in Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Kazachstan, Moldova, Siberia, Tatarstan, Uzbekistan and New York between 1991 and 2009. Stephen Gill helped to go through 15,000 negatives to select images for the book. The title refers to a Russian tradition to sit down for a few minutes before starting a journey.
The size of the book and unusual rounded corners reminds photo album. It has a beautiful design: blue coloured end notes, interesting (linen) cover, nice heavy paper, good binding. The book is a mastery of photography and design.