"Dialogue with Markus (and Angelika) Hartmann"
Kayo Tokuda (Curator)
Hartmann Projects Space
Curator: Please share your thoughts and beliefs in publishing and paper printings.
Markus Hartmann: I think that the printed book will become a rare, expensive and collectible treasure in the far future. We already see that happening in our special niche of high end photography-and art books. Resources such as paper, ink and transportation will become more expensive from now on and will make any physical production more and more valuable and rare. So before producing a book we will have to think (and calculate) harder and harder and they will become more expensive in the future, something we already see happening now. I think there will be books still in 50 or 100 years but they will be rare (not mass production items), expensive and hopefully beautiful!
And giving this idea a second thought:
Maybe the printed book will have a comeback even as a mass market product as it can be considered a very sustainable product, when you think of the life circle and recycling aspects, and maybe e-books proof to be not so climate neutral as we all think they are?
C: Your inspirations and passions for photography and books to the future generations?
MH: I was interested in photography all my life and in my formative years was thinking of becoming a photographer but had doubts in my creative abilities and choose to start working in art book publishing (coming from a family of publishers, printers, art historians this could be considered an obvious choice.)… In the 1990’s photography books were the „new kids on the block“ in that world and became quite popular and since then the books and the market have evolved in various waves. Photography and books go together better than any other creative mediums. I tend to think that the book as a medium is instrumental in spreading documentary and artistic photography. A book can serve as the perfect medium almost replacing the exhibition in a way. Many photographers „think their work“ from the book perspective, as the photo book is and was the perfect medium for all kinds of photographical expression.
C: What would you like to challenge for the present and the near future?
MH: First I would like to challenge the obstacles of distribution! But this is more a dream than a realistic plan. Books, especially photo books are heavy and travel slowly and the shipping has a decent carbon footprint, especially when it is done by air, which has become quite common in the last twenty years.
But speaking more generally I liked that the pandemic has educated many of our customers (especially overseas) to be more patient and wait for their order up to even 6 or 8 weeks. Parcels to overseas destinations that used to take a week can now take up to 2 months! But the joy when one of our books finally arrives on the doorsteps of the eagerly waiting customer often can not be described. I also hope that photography as a language will be taken more serious. Social media teach the world about that language more and more and maybe the photo book as the high end expression of this language can profit from this development?
Hartmann Projects Book Table
C: How do you decide whom you work with and what aspect you are inspired by (the work and/or the person)?
MH: We look and decide about all our book (and exhibition) projects together as a couple (My wife Angelika Hartmann and me). The subject matter and the artists behind it have to be interesting for us which means we are using our publishing program and the work on the books as our private educational program or „university“ in a way. The subject matters vary from political, social, documentary, travel, just as it is stated on our bi-annual small (sustainable!) catalogues: „Books about Photography, Society, Politics, Nature, Beauty and, Everything Else“ which means that in all considerations and decisions we always leave room for such wonderful words as serendipity and chance!
We are always inspired by the endless power of human creativity that never stops to generate the new the exciting the surprising visual or conceptual works. Like any good publisher we look for the new, unseen, unexpected works more than for repetition of the already know (i.e. „mainstream“).
C: Education is often conducted through digital tools such as tablets and some people read by Kindle. How do you find differences in terms of experience that has influence in senses on the book reading process though digital tools or by printed paper materials?
MH: I personally read a lot of online media and use tutorials whether as texts or film (youtube), especially when it comes to software (like photoshop, indesign etc.) and hardware (when it comes to fixing a motorcycle!) but when I read for pleasure or leisure I still prefer the printed book even though it is heavy and bulky. I still think reading on paper is a different process and experience and some scientific research projects have confirmed that our brain makes a difference of memory depending on the reading process (whether on paper or the screen). But as all human behavioral processed this is subject to change and also differ between cultures!
C: Please recommend us books to read including art books.
MH: I currently read the autobiography of the German/American photographer Erwin Blumenfeld: „Durch tausendjährige Zeit, Erinnerungen“. Beside the text also the publishing history of this book is very interesting. Originally written in German (by Blumenfeld living in the USA since shortly after the war, who wrote it in the 60’s) it came out in French first, then in 1976 in German, and only much later in English by Thames & Hudson (1999).
Recent readings: „The Legend of Barbara Rubin“, about the short but intensive life and work of a fascinating women in the creative underground of New York in the 60’s, her jewish background, Jonas Mekas, Andy Warhol and much more….(by Spector books, one of the best German publishers of culture, art, photography, out of Leipzig)
Walter Keller – Beruf: Verleger (profession: publisher), by Edition Patrick Frey, another great cultural publisher from Zurich. This book honors the life and work of Walter Keller, (and SCALO his publishing house and bookstore and much. more) maybe the most influential and formative photo book publishers of the last 50 years. He changed the way we look at photo books and gave them a new modern concept (in the 90’s). I personally was always very impressed and motivated by all his ideas and projects and worked with him a few times on joint ventures. Unfortunately the book is only in German! Maybe Pro Helvetia (the Swiss cultural foundation) will put together a traveling exhibition with all the SCALO books and then publish the book in English!?
And in preparation of a long planned journey to Japan I will read: „The Geburt des Modernen Japan“,(The Birth of Modern Japan) a book my parents read in the 70’s/80’s when preparing for their trips to Japan. An anthology of texts from 1542 to 1869. I hope to get a better understanding of Japanese history…. before going there myself.
Publisher, Curator, Author, Agent
Director Hartmann Projects, Hartmann Books, Stuttgart, Germany
Born 1962 in Berlin to a family of printers, publishers and art historians, trained artbook publishing at Verlag Gerd Hatje, Stuttgart (1982–1984), worked as photographers assistant in Hamburg afterwards (1984-1986) and studied at Stuttgart Media University Media and Printing (1986–1990), from 1990 until 2013 publishing director for photography and contemporary art at Hatje Cantz Publishers, started Hartmann Projects with his wife Angelika Hartmann in 2013.
Hartmann Books in 2016, a company for curating, exhibition curatingn and publishing photography and art books, regular contributor to magazines and blogs, writing on photography and book related themes, regular juror, curator and lecturer at international Photofestivals and awarded the German Publishing Award in 2021.
Hartmann Projects recently opened its exhibition and gallery space for photography at Galerienhaus, Stuttgart. He lives and works in Stuttgart.