I don’t know how or from where Piergiorgio Casotti & Emanuele Brutti’s Index G came on my radar. Jörg Colberg was my first guess, and if so, I find no mention of Casotti or Brutti or the title on his blog. It wasn’t @swerdnaekalb either, nor was it Charcoal Book Club…. Maybe it was something on Instagram when I still scrolled it or maybe I saw it on the Skinnerboox website when I ordered Daniel Reuter’s Providencia and couldn’t resist?

And, really, who cares? It doesn’t matter where I found out about it, really. It’s what I have to say about it on my very own vanity blog that counts.

[Most all of my book reviews prior to March 2024 had an unboxing video inserted at this point. YouTube removed my channel without warning in early March and left me scrambling. I still don’t know what I’m going to do, but I have a few ideas. Anyway. This review was already set to publish, and so I’ll go ahead and push it out. If you looked forward to the video, apologies, and maybe something like that will return in the future.]

On one hand, Index G is exactly the sort of book that should be in my sub-collection—books that combine photographs with text—and on the other… I guess that’s the only hand there is.

Index G takes its name from the Gini coefficient: “…a measure of statistical dispersion intended to represent the income inequality, the wealth inequality, or the consumption inequality within a nation or a social group.”* Casotti & Brutti took this idea to St. Louis and made photographs of a seemingly impoverished neighborhood, less-than-glamorous interiors in black & white, and some wildly underexposed head and shoulders portraits. Proximity being what it is, I suspect we’re meant to think of these people as the mostly invisible residents of the downtrodden-looking neighborhood.

The first half of the book is made up of landscapes, printed on smooth matte paper; the second half is most interiors, printed on a glossier stock. If Glen Luchford’s Roseland shows us the wrong way to lay out photographs, Casotti & Brutti (and designer Fiorenza Pinna) give a masterclass, with the left half of pictures printed on the right-hand, recto side of the page, and the right half of the picture printed on the verso, on the next page. Instead of burying the photo in the gutter, they cut it in half with the turn of a page…. If, as I suspect, the landscapes were mostly made from a car, the layout sorta reads like quick glances out the window as you speed past a scene, and I think it works.

Bits of a screenplay, stage directions or something, appear at random points in the book. I’m not ashamed to say that I mostly skipped over these in favor of the entire text, which appears fastened into the rear cover. Casotti’s play is something like Robert Altman’s Short Cuts or Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Babel, with a double handful of scenes showing various characters not-quite crossing paths as they move about the city.

The text takes place in a variety of areas: an outdoor mall with a bank in the parking lot; a restaurant or bar of some sort; a call center. The photographs, though, all seem to be from pretty much one neighborhood. (The portraits and interiors could’ve been made anywhere, but proximity, again, suggests otherwise.) I suppose the wealthy woman running errands on her way home might pass by the neighborhood on her way somewhere, that the guy in the call center talks to a little boy in one of the old project-type apartments behind the used auto parts store, and it’s not like the pictures need to exactly illustrate the text.

Mostly, it all works, I think. The characters are a bit wooden, and the attitudes read very much stereotypical mid-period #blacklivesmatter, placing the book maybe more of a specific time than it otherwise might be.

Overall, Index G rates a solid 4 stars.

When I began this post, the book appeared to be readily available, and I was quite surprised. Now, a couple of weeks later, when I finally made time to slap a quick edit on and bang out this outro, I find it’s long sold out everywhere I looked. That’s what I get for being so lazy about writing reviews the past few years, and for buying so many photobooks in such a short period of time. Apologies, and you might be able to find used copies around, though at time of writing bookfinder drew a blank.

*Wikipedia. “Gini coefficient.” Accessed 22 February 2024.

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