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Ian Byers-Gamber
If They Can Do It, Why Can’t We?

Published by Sming Sming Books

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PLEASE NOTE: The photograph on the cover will be selected at random (out of 11 possibilities). The cover stock is made from used file folders and have variations in color. Slight discoloration, wear, and marks may be visible.

June 2021, English, 7 x 9 in, 64 pages + 1 4x5 photograph, 1 insert + 1 double-sided broadsheet newsprint poster, color, softcover
Edition of 250
Design: Sming Sming Books

With texts by Kate Alexandrite and Lucas Wrench

Ian Byers-Gamber: If They Can Do It, Why Can't We?

"When the original home of the Bob Baker Marionette Theater was sold to an apartment developer, its historic designation required architectural documentation prior to demolition. Given my ongoing work with the theater, they recommended me for the job.

The Library of Congress standards for photographing buildings serve legibility and archival quality: black and white, wide-angle documentation of empty structures. Making those reserved photos in an environment so colorful, chaotic, and alive, I felt compelled to document the magic unaccounted for by archival standards. I photographed puppeteers at work, whose animating magic makes performers of puppets. The animacy of those marionettes, meanwhile, I captured in more dramatic color portraits; the human care and labor that produce the marionettes imbues each with a spirit that I feel warrants a similarly humane photographic treatment.

A city planner lamented that one reason they couldn’t block the development was that the magic was within the building, rather than in its walls. I argue that the magic permeates everything." —Ian Byers-Gamber

Ian Byers-Gamber is a Los Angeles-based artist and art documentarian. In both capacities, his work often involves producing visual archives for and around arts spaces. His photographs propose alternate ways of looking at existing archives while imagining new ones altogether.