The exterior cover image of the 50 hand-made books from Anurag Banerjee's book titled I'm Not Here

For pricless art

By Anindita Paul | Mumbai

Updated: Oct 16, 2019, 08:04 IST

Prominent photographers Anurag Banerjee and Gareth Phillips are giving away free copies of their handmade photobooks. Don't miss

In the world of publishing, the 'bestseller' tag can often weigh heavily on creators. From focusing on the process of creation alone, they must now also grapple with sales figures and profit margins. The recent boom in Indian publishing is often credited for spawning new generations of readers.

Unfortunately, this 20th Century gold rush has largely overlooked the art of visual storytelling and, consequently, photobooks. Meethil Momaya. co-founder of Trilogy library and bookstore in Bandra says that the high costs of printing and producing photobooks is often cited when publishers turn down requests to publish photobooks.

One of the photographs that represent the last five-and-a-half years of his life wherein he has explored his evolving relationship with Shillong, the city he originally hails from

"Many publishers are keen on only taking up books they can produce and sell in large quantities, and the relatively smaller audience for photobooks does not meet these requirements. Photographers who choose to self-publish must often wait for a very long time to gather the necessary funds and then invest themselves in the actual process of sourcing buyers," he adds.

This saturation in the book industry prompted photographers Anurag Banerjee and Gareth Phillips to think of a new and somewhat flummoxing way of bringing their art to life. This Saturday, the duo will be launching their handmade photobooks at a popular Bandra-based bookstore. But unlike traditional launches, attendees won't be able to purchase their own copies of the books — they'll be given out for free.

The exterior box set image from Gareth Phillips' three part book Allegories of Adulation & Woolgathering

Phillips explains, "I've been experimenting with creating and publishing books for a while now, to fine-tune the quality to create a high-end final product. As Anurag and I were discussing ways to present our work, we came up with the idea of giving it away for free." Banerjee adds, "We did not want the price of the books to limit where they end up. The broader idea is to spur a discussion about creating and delivering art in a manner that it is not confined only to hard-drives, waiting to be commissioned."

Phillips describes each book as being unique in terms of the stock used and other nuances — embellishments and mistakes. "In that way, each copy is its own limited edition!" he says. Up for grabs is Phillips' three-part book titled Allegories of Adulation & Woolgathering, which he describes as being inspired by the emotions of love, loss and solitude.

A picture of one of the many photographs

The images are deliberately ambiguous, intended to remind viewers of their own memories of love and loss that they can use to build their own narratives. Banerjee's book, titled I'm Not Here, is a culmination of the past five-and-a-half years of his life and explores his evolving relationship with Shillong, where he is originally from.

"This book encapsulates feelings of home, of growing up and the pivotal role that your family (especially your dog!) plays in your formative years," he says. Only 50 copies of each photobook will be given away on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Anurag Banerjee and Gareth Phillips

On October 19, 6.30 pm
At Trilogy Bookstore, 1 Carter Road, Chimbai Koliwada, Bandra West.
Call 8080590590

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