Moments in Between Madness
Book Review3 min read by
✪ Note: The book being reviewed here is the first 5x8” edition. It has since been republished as an 8x10” with a higher page count.
Moments in Between Madness presents a series of photographs from the George Floyd protests in New York City between May 29ᵗʰ and June 3ʳᵈ 2020, by Joseph Rovegno.
This book provides a single person’s perspective of the largest civil unrest in American history. I take it as a compilation of what Joseph thought was his best and most impactful work.
There’s very little text throughout, aside from the cover pages and a single quote that reads, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to me” on page one. The inner back page lists a few organizations supporting the BLM movement, and the back cover spells a long list of black Americans who have been killed by the police.
The photographs that occupy the rest of the pages are a mix of surreal and the mundane:
A NYPD helicopter, hovering dangerously low over Brooklyn Bridge. Crowds of people with signs. A white person with a large Niggaz With Attitudes (an iconic hip hop band) tattoo walking by the police as they’re being flipped off by someone else. A small child on a bicycle reading the sign left next to a burnt-down car while taking a quiet stroll with his dad.
An individual’s perspective isn’t quite the same as the stories put together by newsrooms and the billionaires’ social network algorithms.
I found the story told in this book intense but still relatable. It neither feels sensationalist nor does it focus on violence. I believe that works like this, particularly in print, are essential to understanding what really happened. An individual’s perspective isn’t quite the same as the stories put together by newsrooms and the billionaires’ social network algorithms.
The layout and design seem to be heavily influenced by the contact print aesthetic and mid-century conflict photography. The images are all shot on 35mm Kodak T-Max 400, which appear with strong contrast, noticeable grain, excellent details in the shadows and some lost information in the clouds.
Joseph used heavy, coated stock for the perfect-bound cover and the lighter but still hefty paper for the inner pages. It’s a little too much weight for my taste, mostly because it’s somewhat tough to spread the book fully. I assume that this is less of a problem in the new edition that sports 2x the paper area, giving a lot more leverage for the reader.
Moments in Between Madness has the feel and appearance of a professional/machined print and passionate involvement from the author. I am certainly happy to own my copy.