Get hands-on with the Center for Creative Photography's photobook exhibit

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Mai Naji | The Daily Wildcat

UA student flips through one of the many photobooks assignment on display at the Center for Creative Photography as part of their new exhibit. "The INFOCUS Juried Exhibition of Self-Published PhotoBooks" will run through Jan. 7.

A trip to a museum could always be an enlightening experience. However, there is sometimes an overwhelming urge to forgo the “do not touch” sign and somehow manage to handle the works of art. If you have ever felt like this, then the exhibit at the Center for Creative Photography is right up your alley.

There is an exhibition of self-published photobooks on display at the CCP from Sept. 24 to Jan. 7. "The INFOCUS juried exhibition of self-published photobooks" is displayed with the sole intention of allowing visitors to handle, read and interact with the art.

This truly interactive exhibit is the first of its kind at the CCP's galleries.

“The idea was to give an alternative, unique experience, because photographers for so long have been working with the format of photobooks, but it’s something that museums haven’t taken to heart yet,” said Christian Waguespack, the curator of the exhibit. “We love the idea of giving people a chance to come into the museum and spend some time with something that they could in essence take home with them.”

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The idea for such an interactive exhibit was first seen at the Cleveland Art Museum and then adopted at the Phoenix Art Museum in 2014. The Phoenix Art Museum put out a call to all photographers for entries of self-made photobooks, which resulted in around 300 submissions to choose from.

These 300 photobooks were sent to a panel of seven jurors who meticulously chose 150 books for display. The jurors, all of whom are involved in the photography community, gave a rating for each photobook.

While there was no specific criteria, the ratings were based off the overall creative aspect, formatting and layout that each photographer integrated into their submission.

“We were really interested in people who took creative approaches to the book itself and pushed the boundaries of what a book could be," Waguespack said. "Or other people who were thoughtful in how the book was put together and how the images were sequenced."

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All 150 photobooks were moved to the CCP after the original exhibit was uninstalled in Phoenix. The difference between the exhibit in Phoenix and the one at the UA, however, is the manner in which the art is displayed.

At the Phoenix Art Museum the photobooks were placed on one long table, but at the CCP, the books are on several different coffee tables with surrounding lounge chairs. This set up allows for the intimacy of the books to be highlighted and gives visitors a chance to truly spend time with the art.

The inviting nature of the exhibit is another part of what makes the photobooks a must-see for those seeking to appreciate original art.

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All 150 books are crafted and designed in original ways to showcase what kind of pictures lie inside. From photos of nature to raw images of everyday life, the exhibit holds a little of everything.

Come curl up in a chair and check out some artful pictures of a man in a tutu or an introspective look into life in the Midwest—you won’t regret it.


Follow Natasha Castanedo on Twitter.



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