Melissa Catanese


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  • The Ice Plant
  • 2018
  • ISBN 9780999265512
  • 122 pages
  • Paperback with flaps
  • 19 × 13.5 × 1 cm

Where do our minds go when we read books, magazines, and letters? Do we seek an escape, a portal to another world? A secret, a truth, a pleasant distraction? Voyagers, edited by Melissa Catanese (author of Dive Dark Dream Slow), consists almost entirely of anonymous black & white snapshots of people in various postures of reading — in living rooms, on beds, at the beach, eating breakfast. We can’t see what these readers are thinking, but Catanese occasionally breaks the hypnotic typological rhythm to reveal a new photographic element — a pyramid, a starry night, sunlight glowing through a window — giving us brief glimpses of the readers’ potential narrative journeys. A wordless book with the size and feel of a vintage paperback found at a flea market, Voyagers reminds us of the power and intimacy of our relationship to ‘reading devices,’ and evokes an exotic nostalgia for our recent pre-digital culture. As with Catanese’s prior books, the images were judiciously selected from the collection of Peter J. Cohen, a celebrated trove of more than 20,000 vernacular photographs from the early- to mid-twentieth century.

Melissa Catanese lives in Pittsburgh, PA and is the founder of Spaces Corners, an artist-run bookshop and project space. For some years she has been editing from a vast collection of over 20,000 photographs belonging to collector Peter J. Cohen, and is the author of Dive Dark Dream Slow (2012), Dangerous Women (2013), and Hells Hollow Fallen Monarch (2015). Her work has been included in the Mulhouse Biennial of Photography, NoFound Photo Fair in Paris, and at institutions including Pier 24 Photography in San Francisco and Aperture Foundation in New York. Catanese has recently served as the Georgette and Richard Koopman Distinguished Chair at the University of Hartford in Connecticut, as visiting lecturer at the University of Texas in Austin, and as faculty at the Image Text initiative at Ithaca College in New York.