One of our favourite things to do at YOUR EXHIBITION is to share some of the awesome work you’re producing. In the A LOOK AT series we do exactly that, and in this week’s article we take A LOOK AT Steven Cox’s Prague.
The production of this zine is almost identical to The Fifth Dimension; that is to say it’s exceptional. The cover has a soft-touch feel that gives it a premium feel in the hands. It’s perfect bound, providing a rigidity that’s synonymous with other high end zones. It’s also apparent that Steven has carefully selected the paper as the images jump of the pages, and where Steven has selected to have black pages, the blacks look truly black. Overall, the production quality is as you’d expect from Steven: exceptional.
The cover is very clean. The title is clear, and the image on the front is beautiful. I love how the trees almost echo the border by framing the building in the background. It’s a very well composed image that is worthy of being on the cover. The back cover features a QR code that links directly to his website. It’s a great use of space that gives the product an overall elegant aesthetic.
One of the first pages that greets us is this title page that sets up the narrative for the zine. It says:
The photographs in this book are a portrait of the city of Prague.
Captured on Fomopan 400 - Czech made black and white film.”
I really love this approach. Not only is there a romance in shooting a place on their native film stock, but the fact that Steven’s approaching this like a portrait intrigues me. Of course, this is not the first “travel zine” we’ve featured, but it is the first that has described the project like this. After all, have you ever seen a portrait of something other than a person? Does a portrait of a place differ from street photos of a place, or are they synonymous? It’s these types of questions which encourage us to explore the zine further, and we do so gladly.
One of the first things you’d notice when you start perusing these images are the borders. Granted; these aren’t particularly significant to the narrative of the zine, but I love them. I don’t think I could tell you why, but if I had to try, I think I’d settle on them being unique. It’s just an interesting addition that I have really seen before, and after seeing numerous zines, I can appreciate something that separates one zine from another.
One of the next things that I’m sure many people will enjoy is the grain. Having been shot on Fomopan 400, it appears that Steven may have pushed this stock to tackle some of the trickier lighting conditions, and for those of your that are “grain-lovers”, this will certainly satisfy your soul. I’m impartial to a bit of grain, but I think this is one of the better representations of grainy images.
The images themselves are wonderful. There’s a variety of scenes that keep things fresh, and Steven has also used a variety of layouts. Some spreads feature just 1 image, whereas others feature 4. It gives the zine an unusual heartbeat that I haven’t experienced before, though I wish I had. I think it works exceptionally well at highlighting key scenes, whilst the four images to a spread provide bolstering sights of Prague.
Steven has also utilised a number of images to force the speed of the narrative too; there were even few pages where I had to slow down and actually consider what I was looking at. Here are a couple of examples.
The first is this reflection. I’m a sucker for reflections anyway, so I appreciate the presence of such images, but I think this image also allows for a beat within the zine’s rhythm. It almost forces you to examine the composition for an extra second. After all, at a glance, you might not have noticed it was a reflection.
This next example is a double page spread of symmetry. You could be forgiven for mistaking this image as being horizontally flipped, but in fact it isn’t. These two separate images have been composed carefully to give off this impression, and then placing them within the zine in such a manner is genius. Similar to the last example, this spread forced me to slow down to dissect what I was looking at. It’s little things like this that separates one zine from others.
The last thing I want to note is the inclusion of a print. I love prints. My wall is slowly but surely getting cooler by the print. A print with a zine serves an awesome reminder of the awesome work of a zine; as we often don’t have zines on display, having something you can have that reminds you to appreciate the zine more often is always welcome. I also understand that Steven has opted to offer 5 different prints, so you’re not guaranteed to have the same print as the next person. This print in particular is pretty dope. The way the foreground nature echoes the shape of the distant building is remarkable. Worthy addition to the YOUR EXHIBITION HQ wall.
In closing, what a brilliant zine! Sure, I may speak well of all the zines we get our hands on, but I think I can say with confidence that this is one of my favourite zines. It has a charm and uniqueness that I seldom experience nowadays. It has wonderful monochrome images that have been carefully placed to great effect. There’s a brilliant variety of subject matter and layout which keeps every spread fresh, and an awesome print tops it all of! I highly recommend you get a copy!
If you’d like to do exactly that: you still can! Click here to purchase your copy! They’re £12.00 + postage which is a steal. If you’d like to support Steven further, consider purchasing The Fifth Dimension. You can learn about that zine here. Alternatively, you can buy it here. Don’t forget: you can actually win a copy of The Fifth Dimension if you win the YOUR EXHIBITION SHOOTOUT this month! To learn more about that, click here.