Pocko Book Angel

Size matters. Small is beautiful. Especially when it comes to books. Look at those lovely 55 books of photography from Phaidon. Look at the classic incarnation of the Penguin classics. Look at the mythic Olympia Press travellers Companion Series. Look at Pocko Books.

Pocko books is a new series of pocketable books, that, to quote the books themselves 'merge art and design within the fuzzy borders of contemporary culture.' Pocko reckons there's going to be 96 books in the series, published at a rate of 8 a year, which by my rudimentary math makes it a 12 year project. Which is some undertaking. It'll be interesting to see if the project runs the course, but whatever, from the way it's started it'll be a fascinating journey however long it lasts.

The first batch of books are available now, and the first five come packed in a neat little black box. Book 1 (actually Pocko 00) 'Dear, Thank You, Yours Sincerely' is by Atshide Ito and is essentially a record of rejection. How utterly post-modern. It's a collection of letters of rejection from a host of galleries, art-competitions, colleges and assorted other art-related industries that documents three years of effort. My favourite is from the Mafuji Gallery which has the words thank you and sorry in bold. In these times of fluid employment situations, Ito's book carries a rare, quirky, poetic quality.

Pocko 1 is by photographer Inigo Asis. 'Yamanote' is a telling collection of images snapped as crowded commuter trains on Tokyo's Circle Line open their doors, revealing salarymen and women, sardined and invariably stony faced. What's startling, though, is not the uniformity of the characters, but rather the disparate nature of all the individuals. Each one lost, trapped, happy or otherwise in his and her own personal universe. It's a fascinating little book, and there are endless stories to be told by these faces.

Pocko 2 is Adam Lowe's presentation of Press photos of early '70s US Senators. 'Power Smile' curates these photos (in fact collected by two German teenagers) as a comment on the mediation of politics, but really I'd have preferred some sort of juxtaposition of era to give the project a sense of meaning. As it is, it's just a collection of photos of old guys we don't care about. Kind of fun to look at, but...

Much finer is Pocko 3. 'Tablehead' by Nicola Schwartz is a fascinating macro-photographic record of Schwartz' global journeys, reflected in the heads of Table Football players. There are chubby faced baby players from San Francisco; simple, geometric wooden figures, pitted black by time and (ab)use from Marrakech; pouting prima-donnas from London; pitted and chipped souls like lost sculpture from ancient civilisations from Sardinia; and gruesomely, a decapitated player from Milan stands aside another, whose face has seemingly been scorched and disfigured with a gouged 'X', as if Charles Manson had been in town for a foozeball tournament. Essential for the soccer devotee looking for something that little bit different.

The real Pocko Book Angel in this series, though, is Daisy de Villeneuve, whose 'He Said, She Said' (Pocko 4) is a wonderful felt-tipped diary of passing friends and fleeting scraps of conversation. The drawings are kind of schematic portraits, reflecting de Villeneuve's training in Fashion and Fine Art, but in spite (or because of) being so schematic, they are also gloriously diverse, cataloguing hairstyles and accessories with a certain detached delight. The notation of conversation is similarly detached, as though de Villeneuve is recording a kind of existential soap opera, and the roughly typed words make for curiously addictive reading. Best for me is the page where a black haired, green eyed figure purses lips, below which reads " 'are you going to say goodbye to me?' she said. 'why do we need to say a formal goodbye, there doesn't need to be a conclusion' he said."

Which seems as fine and thoroughly Post-Modern a way to describe Pokco Books as any, and at a fiver a pop, how can you refuse?

Alistair Fitchett 2001

You can buy Pocko books from the Pocko website at www.pocko.com Pricing details are available for UK and USA.


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