We could have chosen many different titles for this post: ”HURRICANE AKINA”, ”THE FACTORY THAT NEVER SLEEPS”, ”ENTER THE VOID”… but we did want to reinforce the words ”workshop” and ”home” as they really represent what Alex Bocchetto & Valentina Abenavoli, most well known as AKINA Books, did in Bristol.

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Carrying three suitcases which were filled with tools, paper and photo books: AKINA  landed in Bristol on Friday evening and after a couple of wines and some food, it took them 2 minutes to fill the living room with photographs. They wanted to check the last details of the workshop, the mobile factory started making some noise and I instantly could get a feel of what these guys are into, ”24 Hours Book Making Party People”.

We are still amazed by the diversity of the participants who took part in the workshop, a group of people eager to learn more about the process of making a collective photobook.

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Valentina & Alex started with a short introduction, they clarified that this workshop was not about them but about the participant’s work. They made us to experiment and learn by making which I think it’s what a workshop should be. They divided the participants in four groups to work together. Working collectively was the key of the workshop and very interesting way of showing the importance of discussing, sharing and exchange ideas as well as detach the authors from their own images. We had to think what images will suit better in a book project. I personally really like this point, but I also aware of how difficult can be working in a group of people that you don’t know much. That’s the challenge, and challenges always bring something positive.

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Book Making Process is never a lonely experience: Photographers can take pictures on their own but at the end of the day they will have to find a group of people who help them out with the edit or find an external editor, as well as a designer, or maybe publisher; anyway producing a book always requires to work with more people and you have to be ready for that.

AKINA made a pre-edit from all the images from the submissions, a final pool of images, around 50, was displayed to be used by the participants. The four groups were ready, and the editing process begun: photographs went to the table, to the floor, back to the table again, before being sticked on the wall. Eight hands interacting looking for a seed that could draw a path. We found pairs, small sequences, connectors and little narratives started to be built. Brainstorming concepts which could help us with the sequencing, but also let our imagination run wild, constructing new geographies or playing with aesthetic qualities.  After 4 hours of intensive work, final sequences were made, we also had a roughly idea of how the dummies were going to be designed. Then  it was time for cutting, trimming, gluing, sticking the photographs into the single pages. During the whole process Valentina & Alex were visiting each group, giving tips stimulating the discussion. Valentina was also producing a dummy while she was walking, and talking with other groups, of course that didn’t shock me, as in one of our previous email exchanging she told me: ”I am binding books while I am writing emails”.

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The last part of the workshop was the actual binding, they showed us LINGER by Daisuke Yokota, their last dummy, as an example of a Japanese Stab Binding.

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At the end of the workshop everyone introduced the dummy, it’s very interesting to see how from the same pool of images each group came with different ideas: ”Permanent Vacation”, a series of small stories that took place in a spooky hotel; ”The Visit”, during a parent’s visit, the daughter concealed the marks of her real self and regressed into being her parents’ child again; ”This space for writing messages”, a way back home after the lost of a relative or ”Someone who cares” which was encapsulated under the idea of HOME as a sanctuary. Terrific, isn’t it? and I am sure that if there were 8 groups we would have come with 8 different stories. That’s the magic of photography. 

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After the satisfaction of eight hours of hard work, we ended up in the local pub watering ourselves with a great selection of beers!!  AKINA was also reviewing some dummies that a couple of attendees brought (I told you these guys are inexhaustible), ”Doorways” by Elena Kholkina & ” In the Forsaken Garden Time is a Thief” by Andrei Nacu. Apparently, AKINA normally does dummy reviews in a pub, like their style, and therefore we are already thinking to plan something for the future.  

But AKINA earthquake didn’t stop on Saturday, on Sunday they were also giving a talk at our space, this time to talk about their work and the particularities of their factory. They made a journey through most of their publications, more than 20, using them as a example of how they have been developing a working process. Interesting, honest and engaging, and that’s because they love what they are doing.

Valentina & Alex, you came to Bristol to build a collective HOME and now you can stay whenever you want

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NEXT EVENTS by AKINA BOOKS:

– 22th May 2014  ‘LINGER’  BOOK LAUNCH/SIGNING with photographer Daisuke Yokota, published by Akina Books. At Photographer’s gallery in London.

– 13&14th  June 2014. STRAY BOOKS FESTStray Books is a free 2 days mini festival with a focus on photo zines and independent photobooks, rooted in DIY practice.

Thanks to all the workshop participants:

ANDREI NACU. COLIN PANTALL. DANIEL BOSWORTH. DANIELLE ARUNDEL. DAVID GILLET. GINA LUNDY. MICHELLE HENNING. IBOLYA FEHER. ILONA DENTON. JOSEPHINE ATKINSON. JUNEKO HAGA. KIRSTY MACKAY. LENA KHOLKINA. PHILIP DOLLO. STEPHANIE SARLOS.