Challenging the Canon: Olga Yatskevich on Photobook History / PGH Photo Fair

Arabella Chapman, Carte-de-Visite Albums, in ‘What They Saw: Historical Photobooks by Women, 1843–1999’. Courtesy 10 x 10 Photobooks

Co-founded by Russet Lederman and Olga Yatskevich in 2012, 10×10 Photobooks foster engagement with the global photobook community through the appreciation, dissemination, and understanding of photobooks. The PGH Photo Fair has partnered with 10 x 10 Photobooks on all their previous touring reading rooms, including in 2019 for How We See: Photobooks by Women, which presented a global range of contemporary photobooks by women.

Follow-up project, What They Saw: Historical Photobooks by Women 1843–1999, focuses on historically significant photobooks produced by women. Officially released on 1 November 2021, the book was recently shortlisted for the Paris Photo – Aperture Foundation Catalogue of the Year Award 2021.

Helen Trompeteler spoke with Olga Yatskevich about 10×10’s ongoing exploration of photobook history and the underrepresentation of women in this field. 

How does your own cultural and personal background inform your approach to the photobook? Do you have a particular early experience with a photobook or reading room which inspired your engagement with this art form?

My interest in photography is fairly typical. My grandfather was a serious amateur photographer, I would spend hours looking at family photo albums and often re-arranging photographs. I spent a big part of my life moving between countries, first with my parents as a kid and later for school and work. I was constantly exploring new places and taking photos felt pretty natural. And I’ve always been a book person but my interest in photobook shaped when I moved to NYC. I started making connections with the local photo community, both in person and online. That’s how I met Russet Lederman, my partner in 10×10 Photobooks. I invited Russet and Jeff Gutterman, her husband, to come to a photobook meet-up I was organizing and talk about Japanese photobooks from their extensive collection. In a way that was the beginning of our 10×10 project.

We started 10×10 Photobooks with a very simple idea – to bring to New York contemporary Japanese photobooks, not easily available through regular distribution. We invited ten people to suggest ten photobooks published by Japanese photographers. We brought these books in a pop-up reading room and invited people to come to the space and spend time with the books. The project came together in just about two months. Our first reading room, titled 10×10 Japanese Photobooks, was launched in September 2012 during NY Art Book Fair, and was sponsored by the International Center of Photography.


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