What Makes 21st Century Central and East European Photobooks so Different, so Appealing?

Adam Mazur


If we reflect on the “photobook phenomenon” that has been developing for a quarter of a century, it will lead us to the verification of the research on the subject in Central and Eastern Europe. The following text was directly triggered by the exhibition and catalog: Photobloc: Central Europe in Photobooks opened at the International Cultural Center in Krakow in 2019. The subject of the project was the 20th-century history of Central Europe told in photobooks. However, it seems that in the 21st century, Central and Eastern European photobooks attract the attention of researchers and collectors from all over the world, and subsequent nominations and awards confirm their high-quality artistic production. The shift of attention to the present day forces the verification of cognitive categories that are useful for cataloging and evaluating 20th-century books. The text is an insight into possible chapters, motifs and narratives concerning photobooks, and so the essay is divided into the following parts: the first deals with a new definition of photobook, the second with a cliche of the otherness of the region, the third is a reassumption of topographic photography, the fourth focuses on issues of history in Central and Eastern Europe, while the fifth and final part is about an intense political atmosphere influencing the production of photobooks. All proposed new chapters are supported by examples of the most important books published in the 21st century. It is an attempt to create an initial catalog of canonical books, as well as an attempt to answer the title question: what makes contemporary Central European photobooks so different and so attractive?


Article received: April 20, 2022; Article accepted: June 21, 2022; Published online: September 15, 2022; Original scholarly paper

How to cite this article: Mazur, Adam. "What Makes 21st Century Central and East European Photobooks so Different, so Appealing?" AM Journal of Art and Media Studies 28 (Septebar 2022): 77-92. doi: 10.25038/am.v0i28.519


contemporary photography; history of photography; photobooks; Central and Eastern Europe; Central and Eastern European art; photobloc.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.25038/am.v0i28.519


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