Forme de Toi

If you say the word tomato with great enough repetition, it soon begins to sound absurd, and you become more aware of the phenomena of language, the object referred to as tomato, and that strange intersection between language and the physical world.  Now image an extreme close up photograph of a woman’s nipple; it can work the same way.

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Je veux une vie en forme de toi.

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I spent part of the afternoon in the Rare Book and Manuscript Division at Cornell looking through the book Forme de Toi by Marc Attali.  The book is gem.  Printed in 1968, the book uses the photobook form beautiful, and feels true to the zeitgeist of the time.

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The book begins with the words above – I want a life shaped like you – and then an extreme close-up of an open eye.  This first photograph is followed with some printed contact sheets.  The tone of the book is set immediately, with the close up – functioning as both an abstraction and a visual statement of intimacy – and then followed with a much more jazzy and playful feel.

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This tone is held throughout the book, with the book really alternating back and forth between the close-ups and then the small photographs of the contact sheets.  The close-ups suggest a great deal of intimacy, love, and a profound curiosity.  The contact sheets, often broken into pieces, help give the book a great feel of freedom, really best characterized as jazzy, musical.

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Printed in heliogravure on all black pages, the photographs are rich with detail and soft tones, rendering the body with the utmost care.

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The book ends with an extreme close-up of a closed eye, bringing us back to the beginning.  Essentially, it is a book about love.  Je ne suis jamais content, the final page of the book.  I am never satisfied.

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