MAY DAYS | Dana Mueller
Published by Fraction Editions, New Mexico, May 2018
Printed by Kehrer Design, Germany
Edit + layout by Dana Mueller
Cover + text design by Shawn Bush
Softcover, 6.75 x 9 inches (170mm x 228mm), 98 pages, 65 plates, 13 gatefolds, offset printing, 1st edition of 500, ISBN: 978-1-943948-17-8
Book festivals + exhibits
FOLA 2018 Photobook Award Finalists exhibition, Fototeca LatinoAmericana Gallery, Buenos Aires, Argentina, December 2018
IAPT PHOTOBOOK: 2018, International Association of Photography & Theory, Korai | Project Space, Nicosia, Cyprus, November 21 – 30, 2018
New Arrivals - Recently Released Photography Books: Lisa McCarty (Radius Books), Dana Mueller (Fraction Editions), Amani Willett (Overlapse), Photographic Resource Center | Lesley Art + Design, October - December, 2018
Arles Books - The Photography Book in all its forms, Les Recontres de la Photographie, Arles, France, July-September, 2018
Archives + libraries
Peabody Essex Museum Phillips Library, Salem, MA, US
FOLA Fotolibreria, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Recontres d'Arles Library, National Photography School, Arles, France
Fotobus Society, Dortmund, Germany
Hellenic Centre for Photography Library, Athens, Greece
Photobookshow Archive, Work Flow Studio, Brighton, England
Free shipping, U.S. only
Bookstores in Europe
Responses to May Days
I’ve been fortunate enough to see this project evolve. What I love most about the book is what I perceive to be a very sensitive and delicate rhythm that carries you through the pages, cover to cover. When I first had a look at May Days I remember thinking of Shen Wei’s “Chinese Sentiment,” which is one of my favorite monographs of the last few years. With Shen’s book there’s this moment when you separate your impressions of China, especially the political, and you begin to see the work as a journal or a memoire… it’s like he’s collecting something. It defies the politics and embraces the personal. Don’t get me wrong, China is there in Shen’s book just as Cuba is in Dana’s, but in both cases they don’t depend on it. For me it’s what makes May Days so successful… Dana has created a volume that challenges our perceptions of Cuba by not focusing on the “Cuba” we’ve seen a million times over.
The rhythm of the book leads you from moments of energy through quiet expanses where each page is as much about discovery as it is about a meditation, a loneliness, a happiness, some solitude, and even celebration. It’s as though she keeps looking for something she loves, and because of that, it gives us the opportunity to connect to the work on a much deeper level.
Andrew Mroczek, Director of Exhibitions, Lesley Art + Design, Cambridge, MA, 2018
Dana Mueller, on the other hand, presents a purely visual journey of her two one-month visits to Cuba in the spring of 2014 and again in 2015 in her book May Days. Her images of this island nation are blessedly free of vintage 1950’s era vehicles and the oversaturated color of so many pictures made in Cuba. She explores the light gray tones of the gravel and minerals used in buildings, monuments and open plazas under the baking Caribbean sun.There are sublime portraits of the people she encountered and a stirring images of domestic pets alongside pictures of the character and architecture of the place. A dog’s plaintive expression is revealed by opening the first of several gatefolds throughout the book. As the reader flips through the pages, the gatefolds serve to create visual connections and disconnections. In one spread, a blue wall faces a portrait of a woman wearing a light blue skirt; as I open the gatefold, a bright empty hallway adorned with a potted plant on shattered limestone hints at a demolished structure. Her juxtapositions of texture, material and light are further enhanced with the use of photographic references: the cover and several images in the book are presented as negatives or printed so lightly that they appear to bleed through the paper. This is a light yet mysterious journey through Cuba; Mueller has revealed little of the politics or economics of the place, yet she allows the viewer to wander, exchange looks, and acknowledge a spirited, elegant and contradictory culture through a bright, clean vision.
Book review by Suzanne Revy, Winter's Silent Songs, What Will You Remember, January 2019
In 2014 and also the following year I taught photography at the Centro de Estudios Martianos (Center for the Studies of José Martí) based in Havana, where I met Cuban friends who introduced me to attitudes, views, and life of the island. The series of photographs are a visual record of my time-- during the days of May--and encounters with people and places which seemed significant to me at this specific moment.
Hoping to go beyond my own understanding of Cuba based on the associations of a foreigner, I became aware of how much lies beyond one’s comprehension. Frequently, nothing was as it appeared, and the surface was too easily misinterpreted. The verve of its people and punctuations of the everyday were what kept me connected.
Although I grew up in the former East Germany, it was important to me not to see things through the filter of socialism and economic hardship - albeit only too apparent - but through social and human engagement that was serendipitous and open. Living in a politically and socially contained system, the deep desire to turn inward felt familiar.
As days passed, I began to see things around me as hieroglyphs of a condition: a society in transition, the atmosphere of anticipation and waiting for change, while wanting to live each day fully and lend meaning to the hour. The singular moments of my journey are those of exchange and, eventually, recognition.