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Interview: JoAnn Verburg on her new iPad-based photo project

Photographer JoAnn Verburg and Minneapolis-based Location Books have teamed up to produce what is likely the first artist’s book created expressly for the iPad. Launched today after a preview at Verburg’s riverfront studio on Sunday, the free app, entitled AS IT IS AGAIN, is linked to Minnesota’s long winters, although it was shot over three months […]

Photographer JoAnn Verburg and Minneapolis-based Location Books have teamed up to produce what is likely the first artist’s book created expressly for the iPad. Launched today after a preview at Verburg’s riverfront studio on Sunday, the free app, entitled AS IT IS AGAIN, is linked to Minnesota’s long winters, although it was shot over three months in Italy. The subject of a 2007 Museum of Modern Art solo exhibition (which came to the Walker in early 2008), Verburg briefly discussed aspects of the new project via email this morning, including its title, which is taken from a James Broughton poem Verburg recited Sunday:

This is It.
This is really It
This is all there is.
And it’s perfect as It is.

There is nowhere to go
but Here.
There is nothing here
but Now.
There is nothing now
but This.

And this is It.
This is really It
This is all there is.
And it’s perfect as It is.

 

Tell me about the title. What poem did it come from, and why did you select it for this project?

James Broughton wrote “AS IT IS No. 2,” the poem I recited. The word “again” was added to the title of my book for a couple reasons. One is that I’ve used his title before, as the title of a triptych of olive trees; and the other is that the word “again” evokes the seasons recurring, and the fact that we depend of the seasons shifting every year. It would be a horrible shock if winter didn’t turn into spring every year. And yet, when we are really socked in, winter seems quite permanent, doesn’t it? After 30 Minnesota winters, I made these images in Italy, walking uphill with my camera and tripod every day for three months, up to the Roman aqueduct, knowing that an almond tree would bloom at some point.  Although it felt–chilly day after chilly rainy day–as though the tree would never bloom, one day it did, and it was absolutely THRILLING.

Is there precedence for artist-made books for iPad? How is this different from previous projects?

I have heard that David Hockney is doing a project with iPad drawings. I think it is a blog, but I haven’t checked it out. Maybe it’s a book. I know many photographers will translate their pre-existing fine art photography books from hardbound to iPad. But as far as we know, this is the first fine art photography book made specifically to be experienced on an iPad.

Tell me about the images — where did you shoot them and what captured you about that place?

As for the location from which the images were made, there is a lovely tradition of taking the same walk every day in Italy, called the passagiata. I love the little road where these pictures were made. It makes a circle below the fortress in an Italian hill town in Umbria. Over the days, weeks, months, and years, I’ve seen many of the same people and their dogs walk there. The people become older, the dogs, too, then there are new puppies, and so on. Meanwhile, the seasons come and go, and the aqueduct changes, too, but a much slower tempo. I’m interested in the different tempos, all occurring simultaneously as we live our lives, observing the big picture and tiny details.

JoAnn Verburg, center, with Scott Nedrelow and Ruben Nusz of Location Books, “an artist-run independent publisher that gives contemporary artists the opportunity to produce new work in book [and now iPad] form.”