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Photobook Review: Summer's Almost Gone By Alex Llovet
Published25 May 2023
- Topics Photobooks
In Summer’s Almost Gone, Alex Llovet merges photographs of family holidays made between 2016 and 2019 into an arcadian vision of childhood, family, of an escape from the everyday drudgery of life.
Summer’s Almost Gone is a solid block of a book. It comes in a dark charcoal cover that is almost an epitaph. There’s a picture on the cover, of a girl holding her hand up to block out the sun. The title is debossed in an almost orange metallic font.
Open the book and the shades remain. The first image is of a thoughtful woman layered with grass. This faces a photograph of 3 children playing on a woodland swing. They are charcoal black, almost hidden in the darkness.
But these images fold out to reveal the undarkened images. The book is meander through the nature Llovet’s family holidays immersed themselves in.
Most prominent is the flora, the organic material which surrounds their holiday life, the leaves that are picked, the seeds that are found, the grasses, umbels, florets, sticks, twigs, and mosses that are things to gather, lie on, or become a plaything in children’s hands.
The fauna mixes in with the flora, linking in with the elemental nature of the book. There’s earth, wind, fire and water and they combine in the frogs, snakes, and dragonfly, and froglets that hop, crawl, and fly across the pages of the book.
Periods of stillness where the light glints off the water, where dewdrops shimmer on a spider’s web, are offset by pulses of activity where Llovet’s family walks, skips, runs, and swims through their homes in the woods. It’s an elemental book.
There is constant action. Hammocks are strung, ropes are cut, networks of string are lined between trees. It’s a holiday where there is building, fencing, enclosing, and tying. At one and the same time the family is at one with nature, but also engaging with it, altering it, transforming it into a plaything.
Running parallel to the streams of hair, the ripples of mud, and the flicker of the light through the trees is a poetic text that echoes the organic themes apparent in the pictures. And for all the joyous celebration of childhood and nature, there’s a melancholia in the air, the idea that not only will this not last for the family, that Llovet is already mourning its passing, but that this will not last full stop. Or that might just be me projecting the end times onto whatever I see.
In the blurb accompanying the book, Llovet wonders about the role of the photographer in such a situation. Can you be both a participant and a spectator, or are the two mutually exclusives?
There is the idea that photography is a way of entering another life, another environment, another way of seeing and being. Llovet raises the possibility that this is not the case, that with our cameras we are always outside, that the sense of immersion in a person or place is an illusion. The camera closes off understanding.
Or if it does create understanding, it is as fiction, as a visual construct that ties into ways of thinking that we already hold. And if that’s the case, the fiction that is Summer’s Almost Gone is rather a beautiful one all wrapped up in a rather beautiful package.
Published by Ediciones Posibles
First edition: 600 copies
Photographs, concept and editing: Alex Llovet
Text: Lara Moreno (in English and Spanish )
Pre-press: Josep Maria de Llobet
15 x 22 cm
94 tritone photographs
216 pages (24 foldouts)
Swiss hardback binding with paper-covered hardcover and exposed spine
Alex Llovet was born in 1974 in Barcelona, Spain, and studied Humanities, Cinema, and Photography at the IEFC where he now works as a professor.
His work revolves around two main themes: identity and the passage of time, characterised by the desire to construct a poetic conceptual discourse where he sublimates the everyday to reveal realities beyond appearances, thus questioning the limits between reality and fiction. He is interested in both the taking of images and their reinterpretation through the editing process.
Other books include a novel “Las fotos que nunca hice” (2020), and five photobooks: “Querido vecino:” (2014), “Faraway So Close” (2016), “Beware Of The Dog” (2018), “The Escape Velocity” (2020) and “Not About Lockdown”.