The German Book Design Competition took place in Frankfurt at the beginning of September, where the Photographs for Documents album by Vytautas V. Stanionis was among 28 chosen candidates for the awards.
The German Book Design Competition has been organised since 1929 and is one of the most prestigious contests in Europe. Every year the expert commission select 25 books that have been published or printed in Germany. Three additional prizes (without the "country of origin" restriction) are also awarded for innovation and the search for new forms in book art. The creative team of the album by Vytautas V. Stanionis: designer Tomas Mrazauskas (Berlin), publisher Gintaras Česonis (Kaunas Photograph Gallery, Kaunas Branch of the Union of the Lithuanian Art Photographers), photo editor Raimundas Austinskas (Kaunas) and production managers Regimantas Trinkūnas and Mindaugas Šveikauskas (Kopa printing house, Kaunas) was awarded one of the three prizes.
The Photographs for Documents cannot be given one straightforward definition. It is not an artistic cycle or series consciously created by Vytautas V. Stanionis – it contains images of individuals seen in double portraits, which were commissioned by the Soviet authorities. Two unrelated individuals depicted in one photograph due to the shortage of materials were later separated by trimming the frames, thus creating photographs for documents and other bureaucratic purposes which left details in the margins that were not needed but which are very interesting nowadays. As commented upon by art critic Ieva Meilutė-Svinkūnienė, "the authorship is still migrating between Vytautas Stanionis, dual authoriship and Vytautas V. Stanionis". As late as in 1987, when slightly over twenty years had passed after his father's death and over forty years since the birth of the images, Vytautas V. Stanionis started exploring this archive, thus creating his peculiar Photographs for Documents, as a phenomenon which has remained ongoing until nowadays.
The exclusive design of the album reveals the duality and processuality of the Photographs for Documents. By not setting the creation of an illusion of sterile or representative photography as his target, the designer Tomas Mrazauskas has consciously divided every image into half by folding the pages. Such a bold decision allows one to have at least a fleeting sensation of the differences in the attitudes and goals of father and son, and ultimately the whole that is created by their merger. The initial intention of the photographs is also revealed by the design of the album, being reminiscent of a folder of documents: pale blue covers, two metal fasteners, with thin yellowish sheets create the aesthetics correlate with the portrait photographs scratched and covered by dust. An innovative design and unique printing solutions were used to purify the essence of the photographs, thus creating an intriguing dialogue between the content and form engaging the viewer and inviting them to reflect.
The Photographs for Documents album by Vytautas V. Stanionis was also heralded at the Lithuanian Book Design Contest that was held in spring. It also gained awards at the Baltic Book Design Competition and it was chosen as one of five most beautiful books (out of 600 contestants) at the albums competition at the prestigious Arles photography festival.
In early October 2014, the album, together with other books that have received acclaim, will be displayed at the largest international book fair in the world ‒ Frankfurt Book Fair, at the exhibition stand of the German book art foundation (*Hall 4.1 Q17).