I was unaware of Teju Cole before I listened to Jordan Weitzman’s Magic Hour interview with him. Full credit to that interview, I guess, by the end of it, I’d ordered his new book Blind Spot, as well as John Gossage’s pomodori a grappolo.
Blind Spot is a small, thick volume stuffed with short, written pieces matched to photographs, or maybe photographs, paired with short written pieces. It doesn’t matter which.
Cole made his name with Open City (I haven’t read it, but maybe should), which won or was short listed for a slew of awards, and writes a monthly column “On Photography” for The New York Times, so he’s primarily a writer, but one that photographs incessantly, and apparently knows a good deal more about it than I do.*
The photographs in Blind Spot are snapshoty and mostly banal, with some absolute greatness thrown in. I get them in ways I don’t get Gossage’s grappoli. There are repeated elements (and even repeated photographs) and general themes play out in the photographs that provide easy avenues into the work, and once there, it’s relatively easy to understand and appreicate the work. Paired with the writing, the photographs take on something else, a loose narrative, perhaps around an unfortunate illness that left Cole partially blind in one eye, perhaps around the general blind spots that we all have. The book itself is well printed and feels substantial in the hand.
Overall, I’d give it a solid 3.8, though that doesn’t really do it justice…
As a whole, Blind Spot belongs to a new, genre-bending category, up there with Kwiatkowski’s And Every Day Was Overcast, I think, though I’m pretty sure Blind Spot is more nonfiction and autobiography than fiction, and it makes a great addition to my loose collection of photobooks that mix in text, though it’s also a written work that mixes in photographs. Pick up a copy, and enjoy it!
*Cole, for example, praises the work of John Gossage in that Magic Hour interview… that’s why I bought pomodori a grapollo.