I tend to stay away from Instagram. The feed is incomprehensible these days: it’s 80% ads or Suggested accounts (which are mostly ads), and finding actual posts from the actual humans I follow is nigh-on impossible. Somehow, though, back on January 22, 2023, I stumbled across @swerdnaekalb’s thumbnail review of Bobby Abrahamson‘s Rabbit and ordered a copy immediately.
It took awhile for Rabbit to arrive, but I knew it would. Andrews mentioned the production process and all in his review, and Abrahamson reached out to me a few times to explain the lag and apologize for it, so I wasn’t worried at all. I received #71 of 100 in late May, 2023.
If you want a copy too, well apologies: it’s sold out at time of writing, and no wonder: it’s a brilliant thing.
From what I understand, Abrahamson had 100 copies of a hand-bound journal reprinted. He then hand titled and left various notes in pencil on most every picture; he stapled or taped in hand-smudged and wrinkled copies of letters, cards, additional journal pages, an old spiritual manual, and other such ephemera throughout; and made other additions, including an afterword sealed in an airmail envelope. Due to Abrahamson’s painstaking methods, production delays were easily understood. And to say Rabbit was worth the wait is an understatement. Not only was it worth the wait, it was worth the cost too. It’s an incredible thing, really, and I’m privileged to have a copy.
Abrahamson spent much of the 1990s and early 2000s traveling around the world making pictures, and Rabbit follows his travels: 1994-95 in New York; 1996-97, Latin America; 2000, USA (and Mexico); 2004, the Republic of Georgia; and Recent Wanderings in 2005-present. While in New York, Abrahamson cold-called Robert Frank and formed a friendship that lasted for the rest of Frank’s life—some letters and postcards to and from the elder master are included—and that courage served him well, I think, as he just leapt into various places and just made his way.
The pictures he brought back are a sort of hodgepodge. Abrahamson has something I lack entirely: namely, vision, sight, the ability to just see, that he honed through his travels, and that he seemingly had from the start. The work throughout is excellent, and at the same time, it’s largely subsumed by the presentation, the book itself, and the method of presentation.* Rabbit is a masterwork.
Unrated: Highly Recommended.
Given that it’s now out of stock, I won’t give the book a rating. If you find a copy somewhere, snatch it up, and if you see that the exhibition version of “Rabbit” is set to appear somewhere nearby, go and see it. (The work began life as an exhibition that included the pictures and letters, sure, but also furniture and knickknacks that wouldn’t really lend themselves to being stapled or taped into a journal…)
Go check out Abrahamson’s website and maybe reach out and poke him about producing a second edition or something…. He has an earlier book, One Summer Across America, and a used copy should appear on my YouTube at some point in the near future, with a review to follow whenever I get around to it.** Rabbit is a brilliant thing in mostly black & white, and I look forward to seeing Abrahamson’s color work. While I probably won’t be so over the moon about the earlier book’s presentation and makeup, I look forward to being able to focus more on the pictures.
Speaking of journals, Rabbit sorta reminds me of a memory book thing I put together over 4 or 5 years, roughly 25 years ago. I should probably try to scan it and do something with it, maybe. Here’s a sort of teaser:
*This is entirely my own fault and failing, and has nothing to do with Abrahamson….
**I assumed it was also out of print, but Abrahamson seems to have copies available on his website if you hunt around a bit. Shame on me before not doing so.