The Persistence of the Documentary Photobook in the Age of the Web


  • Julie Martin



appropriation, documentary, quotation, recycling, self-publishing


Several artists who take into consideration the existence of the Internet in their process of documenting the world remain faithful to the photography book. They find in the codex an experience that a screen remains incapable of providing. The adoption of the book by some documentarist artists engages appropriation practices from an ancient documentary project. War Primer 2 by Broomberg & Chanarin and Less Américains by Mishka Henner reproduce pre-existing books, respectively The ABC of War by Bertolt Brecht and The Americans by Robert Frank. The renewed interest of artists and photographers in books can be explained by a logic of comparison between the two media: the emergence of the web, with its formats and specificities, makes it possible to better appreciate, by analogy and distinction, what characterizes books and the web, and what makes their respective languages.

However, rather than thinking of the modes of publication as alternatives, some of the artists merge their logic by resorting to online self-publishing platforms that allow the self-production and self-distribution of books. The artist Mishka Henner stands out in particular for his systematic production of books on self-publishing sites.


Article received: March 31, 2022; Article accepted: June 21, 2022; Published online: September 15, 2022. Original scholarly paper

Author Biography

Julie Martin

LLA-CREATIS, Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès


Julie Martin is a doctor in art sciences. Her research focuses on documentary art practices in the Internet era. She was a fellow at the German Center for Art History (DFK) in the 2019–20 annual project “Art and New Media” under the direction of Thomas Kirchner and André Gunthert. She was a lecturer at the University of Toulouse, Marseille and Strasbourg. In parallel to her academic activities, she is an art critic and exhibition curator.


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How to Cite

Martin, J. (2022). The Persistence of the Documentary Photobook in the Age of the Web. AM Journal of Art and Media Studies, (28), 77–88.



Main Topic: Rare, Bound, Cheap, Inserted – The Evolution of Photobooks