TRACE: Kota Ezawa, Tabitha Soren, Tabitha Soren & Penelope Umbrico

TRACE: Kota Ezawa, Tabitha Soren, Tabitha Soren & Penelope Umbrico

Kota Ezawa, Tabitha Soren & Penelope Umbrico 


Softcover, set of three books
8.75 x 6 inches
each book is 40 pages
Edition of 250
Trade Edition:  $40
Yoffy Press




From the publisher:

TRACE is part of Yoffy Press' Triptych series and features artists Kota Ezawa, Tabitha Soren and Penelope Umbrico. In each Triptych, three artists are given a word to inspire the creation of a small book of work. The books are sold as a set, inviting the viewer into the collaboration to make connections between the projects and the overarching theme.

The TRACE artists each experiment with appropriation in their practices to explore how we interact with images in the contemporary world.

Grab a copy of the book here


Book review by Dana Stirling |

Yoffy press came out with a new collaborative effort featuring three artists: Kota Ezawa, Tabitha Soren and Penelope Umbrico. Each artist has one part of the collection, all tackaling the word ‘Trace’ from their own viewpoint. I found this concept to be very interesting as a viewer. I found it to be interesting to not only think about the word myself or what in fact I would have done if asked, but to see how each artist brought their own world and artistic practice to the same, swimmingly simple, word.

The three books are individual yet they are still a collective effort, bounding from one another and from book to book. You view each one by itself but try and also see them as a group and the juxtapositions that are created by the three artists. This publication has a great way of creating a publication that is almost like a photographic essay that speaks with its visuals and it’s straightforward approach.

So where should I begin? I guess with the first book in the series, the work of Kota Ezawa. On the Yoffy Press’s website is says “Kota Ezawa often reworks images from popular culture, film and art history, stripping them down to their core elements. His simplified versions remain easily recognizable and potent, the result of a process that illuminates the hold certain images have on their viewers. Working in a range of mediums such as digital animation, slide projections, light boxes, paper cut-outs, collage, print, and wood sculptures, Ezawa maintains a keen awareness of how images shape our experience and memory of events.”

What I found captivating about this book was the feeling of movement within the publication. Each page changed the story, opened it up and shifted it. The monochromatic images are both abstract and informative at the same time – taking our visual world and breaking it down to simple shapes and graphics. 

Trying to think about the images in the context of the word ‘trace’ I found the images to be traces of culture, time and even color. The abstraction of the real world created these traces of hints and indexical references that allows the viewer to read their context without seeing it all and having it broken down in that way.

Image: Kota Ezawa

Image: Kota Ezawa

In the second book we have the works of Tabitha Soren.

“Soren’s work speaks to the twists of fate in life that can unhinge us. Whether it’s disquieting images of people in mid-fight or flight in the Running series or in the tribute to panic attacks in her oceanscape series Panic Beach, Soren is most interested in what human beings can survive – and what they can’t.  Her images function like invitations to the viewers’ emotional memory. Surface Tension delves into the human psyche by foregrounding the anxiety we navigate in the struggle to adapt to technological domination. Although baseball is at the center of Fantasy Life, the 15-year project is just as much about the mental state of trying to beat the odds and the role of striving in American culture.”

This work was a great jump to a more photographic punch. The images are very emotional and full of color and contrast.  What I found most exciting about the work is the layers within the image – the base photo juxtaposed with the fingerprint and smudges. There is a feeling of not only movement but a physical handling of the image – as if we are viewing these events via a screen or window and are touching the barrier between these people and us. For me, when I was thinking about the work in context to the word, the notion of social media and the private vs. anonymity of today’s online presence came to mind. The idea of the finger prints on these images, small traces of our movements and engagement in these new social encounters. Reading the words of Soren about the project enhances the immediate recognition I had as a viewer to these traces which she uses to her advantage to create these images.

Image: Tabitha Soren

Image: Tabitha Soren

Finally we get to the last book in the series – work by Penelope Umbrico. I think that anyone who knows of Umbrico’s previous work, this is an extension to many of her interests. Umbrico’s sense to look in to small details that are almost banal and trivial in our everyday but highlighting them in an almost obsessive manner, giving them not only a new meaning but an actual meaning that is transformative to us.

“Penelope Umbrico offers a radical reinterpretation of everyday consumer and vernacular images. Umbrico works “within the virtual world of consumer marketing and social media, traveling through the relentless flow of seductive images, objects, and information that surrounds us, searching for decisive moments—but in these worlds, decisive moments are cultural absurdities.”
She finds these moments in the pages of consumer product mail-order catalogs, travel and leisure brochures; and websites like Craigslist, EBay, and Flickr. Identifying image typologies—candy-colored horizons and sunsets, books used as props—brings the farcical, surreal nature of consumerism to new light.”

Penelope highlights these small moments in the screen with a pretty aggressive and bold digital marking, which in itself creates a new layer of pixels within the given image.

Image: Penelope Umbrico

Image: Penelope Umbrico

 For me the biggest success of the publication is how each artist, in their own unique way created an essay about our social culture that we live in today. It is an accurate, disturbing and intriguing visual of what it means to be in the online space that we are all in.

This is a great book to have in your library – as it’s not only a great triptych, it is a great way to have small books from three amazing artists at once.

You should consider getting this thought provoking book by buying a copy here.

Katya Demidova

Katya Demidova

Antonia Messineo

Antonia Messineo

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