Joël Tettamanti: Local Studies etc publications, 2006. 224pp. 49 euro
In Phaidon's two-volume survey, The Photobook, the authors distinguish between a volume that is just a collection of photographs (however fine they are) and one that is truly conceived as a book, becoming more than the sum of its parts.
This publication by the young Swiss photographer Joël Tettamanti is firmly in the latter category and should be an instant inclusion if Phaidon ever updates its survey.
The text interspersed among the images is not the usual 'critical' puff: instead, an alphabetical glossary of Tettamanti's own thoughts on photography, inconsequential at times but often revealing.
With their varying size, sequencing and placement on the page, the images themselves retain their edge, never lapsing into monotonous procession, and gaining in resonance as inter-connections emerge.
Tettamanti's subject, loosely, is the built world - settled landscapes, constructed nature, 'what makes an allotment garden by a motorway junction into the epitome of happiness'. Already he has travelled widely, so sites include a port in southern Greenland, an Egyptian 'ghost town' of incomplete hotels, a French coast damaged by salt works, and post-industrial Luxembourg.
'I always find some beauty in such places, ' he says of the unpromising sites he's drawn to, and wants his photos to provoke 'a second look' at them: 'to get over the certainties of the first look and replace them with a set of questions'. In that this intelligent, elegant book most certainly succeeds.