JTF (only facts): Published 2021 by Sand Dice / self (here). Thin cover (29 x 22 cm), 172 pages, with 96 color and one black and white photos. Includes articles by Alice Otieno and Ryan Christopher. Sand Dice design. (Cover and post the shots below.)
Comments/Context: Born and raised in Jamaica, Jano Edwards moved to New York when he was 16, so the idea of home, as an “altered sense of belonging”, is one of the main themes of his work. His first illustrated book explores the question of home – what does it mean to be a Jamaican and to be a Jamaican in a different country? His interest in these questions was inspired by the work of Stuart Hall, a Jamaican-born British sociologist, who argued that cultural identity is not merely a matter of ‘being’ but of ‘becoming’, ‘belonging to the future as much as it is to the past’.
The first self-published edition of the book, designed and edited by the artist, sold out very quickly, and the second edition (with two additional covers) was published in November of last year. The title of the book, since when, is a nod to the song “Be Ever Wonderful” written by Ted Taylor. since when It is a thin-covered book, and the image of a young man with a chain on his chest without a shirt occupies the entire front cover. There is no text on the cover. Instead it is discreetly placed on the back of the book. With only a few exceptions, photos are printed with complete bleed, creating a continuous visual flow. No captions, page numbers, or other design elements immerse the viewer in the visual narrative. The book is also easy to lay flat, ensuring a more enjoyable experience.
Edwards produced this collection of works over several years during his annual trips to Jamaica, where he found himself inside and out. His early formative years in Jamaica formed the core of his identity, while time outside his home country influences the way he sees the world and Jamaica. Through the series, he captures “a version of Jamaica that was attractive and mundane yet beautiful”. since when It takes the form of a visual diary. It does not follow any story, but instead captures moments, quiet and subtle, and brings them together into a poetic story. His photographs show young Jamaicans, as well as his friends and family, mostly photographed outside, with warm lighting soothing the surroundings.
The book opens with a portrait of a man viewed from the side in black and white, tightly cropped to the frame of his profile; His hair is braided into a cornrow braid and he keeps a cigarette behind his ear. Calm, curious and intimate, the opening image sets the atmosphere for the following visual performances. On the two pages of the book, another picture shows a young man looking up and outstretching his arms to a gathering of birds navigating the sky from above; This action is set against a gentle gradient, it changes from light beige to blue, and the page on the left matches the sky. The moment feels natural and quietly magical.
As we move through the book, there is a sense of distance and familiarity. A photograph of two men in a room with light casting through window blinds with horizontal shades paired with a smaller image on the left shows a white fence with twisted horizontal pickets. Here, and throughout the book, Edwards directs our attention to a specific pattern, which then spreads through the images.
More seaside photos, including an image of a flying man reminiscent of that of Italian diver Nino Migliore, add to the sense of relief, with bodies lounging on the sand or wading through the water. These are counterbalanced by more formal images – young men lounging on top of a car, twins standing on a staircase, and a young red-headed woman in a blue bikini reclining on a motorbike, with lush greenery as a background.
Through excellent editing and thoughtful pairing, Edwards creates a mood that feels relaxed and welcoming. Edwards poses for a portrait of a squatting man holding an arm out holding a beer bottle with an invisible spray of red bougainvillea beside the water, blending the casual comfort of socializing with the natural beauty that never goes out of sight. The same was true of the image of a woman seen through a metal staircase, offset by spotted pink flowers that covered her windshield.
The last photo in the book captures the lush landscape of the island, and the misty hills covered with dense green vegetation feel especially calm and beautiful. This picture is a suitable picture for ending the book, and provides mystery and comfort. as a picture book object, since when Characterized by their meticulous typography, basic design, and editing, their images offer a subtle and intimate vision of the artist’s native homeland. “I hope this book feels like a piece of home,” Edward said, and it definitely worked.
POV collector: Janu Edwards doesn’t seem to have a consistent gallery representation at the moment. As a result, interested collectors will likely follow up directly with the artist via their website (linked in the sidebar).