Interview with the Jury: Francesco Zanot

by Unseen August 11 2016

This week Unseen talks to Camera Centro Italiano per la Fotografia’s chief curator Francesco Zanot about his experience as a juror and his very first photo book purchase. See what he has to say below!

Q: Is there a difference in how you approach photobooks as a curator and as an individual?
A: No, I don't think so. I think these two things always go together. Photography is part of my life. It's my biography. So when I do approach a photo book I never think about my role, but I just try to focus on the publication. And to enjoy its content, design, material...

Q: What would you look for in submissions to set them apart from others?
A: Contents come first. I think every book must be significant, I mean it should go deeper and deeper into a specific theme or topic. That's what I look for every time I pick up a submission: the intensity of the subject.

Q: What is for you the most important aspect when reviewing a photobook?
A: I think the most important aspect is its consistency. Everything in a photobook has o be very much coordinated. That's a matter of language.

Q: Any predictions in which direction photobooks are going to develop?
A: I guess photobooks will integrate more and more influences from other fields and disciplines. They're postmodern objects. I like this idea of hybridization, but I also hope that photobooks will remain easy and sharp objects with a focus on pictures.

Q: Do you think that the push to digitalise material has changed the significance of books?
A: I think they're different things. A book is something you can hold in your hands. It involves a physical experience. What happens to a beholder in front of a screen is just another story.

Q: What would you find the most important part of the process when creating a book?
A: I think it's networking. Bookmaking is without exception a group job. Many people are involved: artists, curators, writers, designers, publishers, printers, distributors... The biggest challenge is harmonizing their positions and their intuitions. But that's also what I like the most. The group of different professionals involved in a book should work like an orchestra or a newspaper's editorial staff. The result is always collective.

Q: Can you tell us about the first photobook you purchased for your own collection?
A: It's Misrach's Desert Cantos. I was about 17 or 18, I loved art and literature, and I liked the idea of a publication and entire projects structured like Dante's Comedia.


The Unseen Dummy Award award ceremony will be a part of this year's Unseen Living Room programme. Be sure to drop by and see the winning photo book dummy of 2016!