A BookJockey session is an experimental format to show and enjoy photobooks in a relaxed and performative way. As in a DJ session, a BookJockey (BJ) plays photobooks, and other elements, showing and mixing them to create a ‘story’ the audience can feel and vibrate with, drifted along by connections, relations... My role is to coordinate and promote new sessions through the photobookjockey.com website.
I say to possible candidates that for being a BJ you don’t need to be a photobook expert, you only need a passion for photography and visual books. In a BookJockey session the audience, as important as the BJ, is invited to participate freely under the rules of the BJ. The first idea was intended for a PhotoBook Club Madrid session but definetely started as a PlayBlankPaper activity. PlayBlankPaper was a group created and managed independently by students, alumni and supporters of the BlankPaper Photography School in Madrid, Spain, who joined spontaneously to propose and develope activities related to photography. There I proposed two formats based on books, 'duels' and 'bookjockey sessions'. And now after more than 50 sessions performed in 28 cities, from 8 countries, by 36 people I can say it exceeded greatly my expectations and the format lives its own life.
BookJockey is an open format, it does not have a definite structure, there are no specific rules you must follow, every BJ is free to imagine and to put into action their own idea of a ‘BookJockey session’ and I think this is the most interesting and bold ingredient of a session. For any photobook lover, collector or student, to create a playlist is a good exercise in order to analyze and understand their own library, or someone else’s book collection.
You can understand this format is a quite logical consequence if you think on how photo books are used, for instance, on any portfolio review. Do you know this book? I recommend you to consult this book, this website, this novel, this movie... Have you read...? Have you seen...? Or what it might be a casual conversation between two friends, or with the bookseller, in your favorite photography bookshop.
This article aims to introduce this format to a wider photobook community, to briefly show different strategies used by BJs to perform their own sessions (so as to identify and discuss the ingredients anyone can use in a session), and to be a starting point to enable further discussions about the format itself and its future. Photobooks are the central ingredient, but not less important are others such as exploration of the performative through entertaining or play strategies, creation and spreading of knowledge beyond the academy, creation of an audience and widening of a photobook community to break endogamy of photography and collector circles, activation of a critical view on publishing and reading photobooks, shortening the distance between audiences and private libraries making them a little bit public for a short space of time...
Antonio Xoubanova performed the first session in November 2012. Other names are Fosi Vegue, Ricardo Garrido, Federico Clavarino, Juan Cires, Horacio Fernández, Julián Barón, Annakarin Quinto, Saddredine Arezki, 10x10 Photobooks, Arturo Rodríguez, Egosystem, Paco Navamuel, Olmo González, MFG Paltrinieri, Miren Pastor, Max Pinckers, Pablo Casino, Emilie Hallard, Javier Roche, Rubén Rodríguez de Torres, Xènia Bagué or Ramon Reverté. There have been sessions in places like Antwerpen, Arles, Barakaldo, Barcelona, Castellón de la Plana, New Yorkk City, Getxo, Gijón, London, Madrid, Montevideo, Oñati, Paris, Valencia or
Valparaíso, as stand-alone sessions or as part of festivals like P2P, Argi Festibala, Le PhotoBookFest, Libros Mutantes, Fiebre Photobook, AutoEdit, Braakland, 2a. Setmana del Fotollibre, Arts Libris, CMYK, StrayBooks, GETXOPHOTO or Le Desfas at Les Rencontres d’Arles.