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April’s Eidolon Shelf pick

Eidolon Shelf represents a collaborative effort between Eidolon and one of our favourite places in Budapest: ISBN books + gallery, a contemporary art bookstore and a gallery space. This initiative showcases a monthly selection of books closely aligned with the realms of vernacular photography, banal imaging, and contemporary photographic theories. Our goal is to popularise knowledge in these specific areas through the titles that we enjoyed and have influenced our thinking in the field of everyday imaging. Each month, a featured publication takes center stage on the Eidolon Shelf at the ISBN store, alongside other carefully curated books which are available for purchase on the spot.

Here is our book recommendation for April:

Annebella Pollen: More than a snapshot.
A visual history of photo wallets

Back in the days when a lot of us were analogue camera users we had to wait days or weeks for our images to get developed – and during that time we could only hope that we had photographed idyllic family portraits and holiday snaps instead of accidentally photographing our own finger. Of course, a lot of us were – and are – confident enough to spend this time patiently waiting for the perfect turnout, but still, the moment of receiving your developed images from the shop is an event filled with excitement, hence worth celebrating.

Wherever in the world we receive our fresh photographs they come in photo wallets. These mostly paper pouches, cheery illustrated envelopes depict the exact subjects we photographed in most cases: bright-eyed children, laughing couples, adorable pets and perfect landscapes – and never the dreaded pinky or orangey shadow of the thumb.

These wallets were and are a surface for the photo-committed brands to communicate directly with the amateurs and customers, so taking a look at what kind of messages and advice they conveyed is an interesting take on everyday imaging’s history. Annebella Pollen’s richly illustrated book drawing from the author’s personal collection of photo wallets from the 1900s to the 1990s, charts a century of popular photography in Britain: the birth of a new mass leisure pastime mainly marketed towards women, the growth of camera ownership after the Second World War, and behind it all, the working conditions of the people processing the films.

Flipping through the book we can get to know the story of the Kodak girl and her striped dress, Ilford’s Selo Soldier, the patriotic narratives that drove the sales of photographic tools and equipment for years, and the collective experience of the “print regardless” requests showing how some of us have an almost unprecedented emotional connections towards even the faulty images we snap. As a consequence, after seeing a wide array of photo wallets from the author’s collection we can confidently say: “tastes for fonts and colour palettes change faster than photographic fashion”.

Annebella Pollen is Professor of Visual and Material Culture at University of Brighton, UK, where she researches undervalued archives and untold stories in art and design history. Her previous books include Mass Photography: Collective Histories of Everyday Life, The Kindred of the Kibbo Kift: Intellectual Barbarians and Nudism in a Cold Climate: The Visual Culture of Naturists in Mid-20th-Century Britain. Annebella Pollen was an invited guest of Eidolon’s Talks on everyday imaging event, watch her lecture here.

Publisher: Four Corners Irregulars 
Published in 2023.
ISBN: 9781909829220
Pages: 112
Language: English
Price: 6.990 Ft

Grab your's at ISBN books+gallery:
1084 Budapest, Víg utca 2.
Opening Hours:
Tuesday-Friday: 12-6pm

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