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Blind Spot • Teju Cole

Teju Cole ’s third entry in my personal book collection, consisting of his previous books Open Citiy and Known and Strange Things, is a remarkable collection of sights and thoughts, gathered throughout his journeys around the world. He has a fantastically unique ability to associate things he’s seen, with things he knows, sightings with knowledge; he makes it clear through his photographs and the accompanying captions. Noticing resemblances of things, within other things, is clearly one of his true virtues, continuingly toying the reader with vague implications, hinting at something, but ultimately, letting the reader decide for him or herself.

Teju Cole turned Instagram – he is an active member of the community and I recommend you to follow him as well – simply put, into a photo book: combining beautifully formulated captions with beautifully composed images, this book clearly is reminiscent of his Instagram feed, although it is worth a whole lot more than its digitalized counterpart; but, one could also see his Instagram as an addition to, or extension of his book.

In a way, he sophisticated his Instagram feed, and I don’t mean that in a derogatory way. Since time, or time span, is an important aspect of both, his book and Instagram, he managed to create something timeless, or at least, something much slower paced than Instagram is; allowing you to consciously take some time off, and to reinvest it into something more focused and way less distracting.

Image of Sao Paolo shot by Teju Cole and printed in his most recent book called Blind Spot

Sometimes being self referential by addressing things written about in his other books or essays, – „I was in São Paolo on a mission to find an old photograph, but the new ones kept coming“, refers to his deliberate hunt for the rooftop from which Renè Burri shot his iconic photograph „Men on a Rooftop“ in the 1960’s, written about in Known and Strange Things – he’s taking you on an adventure across world’s history and his own; delightfully putting the attentive reader, upon realization and recounting, a slight smile on his face. It almost feels like a treasure hunt, with small hints scattered throughout all of his works. Even the book’s title is self-referential, and if you’ve read his previous publication, you’ll know exactly what I mean.

His photography is best described as distant, he often shows us his surroundings on a macro level, that is, always from a certain distance, with many things to notice and to discover; this stands in stark contrast to his writings, he always stays on a micro level, giving very detailed descriptions, thus completing the picture, but not necessarily the one shown next to his captions.

Teju Cole wrote in Blind Spot „all cities are places where traces remain of things that happened“, and I see him as exactly that person who does not only notice such traces but is also able to capture and transform them for us to notice and experience as well; and I’m really thankful that he does it in such a deliberate and beautiful way.

All in all, Blind Spot is a wonderful and quite unique book, which i highly recommend you to get as well.

You can buy it via Amazon →

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