Lines and Lineage

Published in 2019 by Radius Books. 136 pages with duotone photos and essays by historian Carrie Gibson and author Tomas van Houtryve. All text in Spanish and English. Available in four cover designs. ISBN: 978-1942185628


With Lines and Lineage, Tomas van Houtryve takes aim at America’s collective amnesia of history. The work addresses the missing photographic record of the period when Mexico ruled what we now know as the American West. To visualize the people and places from the remarkable yet unseen Mexican era, van Houtryve chose to photograph the region with glass plates and a 19th-century wooden camera. His portraits of direct descendants of early inhabitants of the West—mestizo, Afro-Latin, indigenous, Crypto-Jewish—are paired in diptychs with photographs of landscapes along the original border and architecture from the Mexican period. This book lifts the pervasive fog of dominant Western mythology and makes us question the role that photographs—both present and missing—have played in shaping the identity of the West.

”With his pictures, he homes in on the historical amnesia that envelops not just the Mexican-American War but so much else of America’s past, effectively enabling our new era of intolerance.”

—Simon Romero, New York Times

"Lines and Lineage is a remarkable book for many reasons... What is impressive is the vigor and kindness, the cohesiveness, of van Houtryve’s pursuit. And while nothing can replace an archive that was lost or never made, Lines and Lineage opens a space, similar to what John Berger once described as “the field of memory”. A place, in which different narratives co-exist – moments of revelation that withstand the flow of time."

—Sabrina Mandanic, Collector Daily

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Behind the Curtains of 21st Century Communism

Published in 2012 by Editions Intervalles. 288 pages with color photos and essays.
Foreword by Tzvetan Todorov. ISBN: 978-2916355658


Behind the Curtains of 21st Century Communism by Tomas van Houtryve explores contemporary communist societies in North Korea, Cuba, China, Nepal, Vietnam, Laos and Moldova.

In several nations across the globe, the Communist Party has managed to hold on, mutate and adapt to the 21st century. Whether due to unaddressed class inequality, nostalgia or the steel fist of totalitarianism, these places continue to resist against the tides of history.

Created over seven years, Behind the Curtains demonstrates unprecedented access to current communist countries, where award-winning documentary photographer Tomas van Houtryve discovered a secretive world of revolutionaries, spies, opposition fighters and ordinary workers. His photographs explore the gulf between the high ideals of communism and its complex present day reality.

*Also available in French and German language versions below.

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Geschlossene Gesellschaften, Eine fotografische Reise durch kommunistische Länder

Geschlossene Gesellschaften,
Eine fotografische Reise durch kommunistische Länder

German language edition, published in 2012 by Benteli, Switzerland. 288 pages with color photos and essays.
Foreword by Tzvetan Todorov. ISBN: 978-3716517147

Summary in German:

Nach Ende des Kalten Krieges warfen die meisten kommunistischen Staaten ihre marxistischen Prinzipien über Bord und etablierten ein neues Regierungssystem. Doch es gab einige wenige Länder, in denen es der kommunistischen Partei gelang, an der Macht zu bleiben. Genau diese Staaten bereiste der amerikanische Fotograf Tomas van Houtryve in den vergangenen sieben Jahren, wobei er bisweilen viele Hürden zu überwinden hatte, um an sein jeweiliges Ziel zu kommen.

In Nordkorea zeigt sich der Kommunismus von seiner rigidesten und besonders grotesken Seite. In Moldawien und Kuba befindet er sich in der Auflösung, durchdringt aber immer noch das reaktionäre System. In China, Vietnam und Laos bemüht sich die kommunistische Regierung um eine Annährung an die westliche Marktwirtschaft. In Nepal hingegen herrscht eine völlig andere Situation: Statt sich vom Kommunismus zu lösen, strebt dieses Land nach seiner Einführung!

Van Houtryves Fotografien zeigen deutlich den Unterschied zwischen vielversprechender kommunistischer Theorie und gelebter Praxis, die oft an die Grenzen des Menschlichen führt.

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La Lutte Continue Cover

La Lutte Continue,
Voyage dans les communismes du XXIe siècle

French language edition, published in 2012 by Editions Intervalles. 288 pages with color photos and essays.
Foreword by Tzvetan Todorov. ISBN: 978-2916355641

Summary in French:

Dans quelques pays, le communisme a réussi à survivre à la fin de la guerre froide, à muer et à s’adapter au XXIe siècle. Qu’il constitue une réponse à des inégalités criantes, qu’il repose sur la nostalgie d’une époque de stabilité ou qu’il déraille vers le totalitarisme le plus violent, le communisme dans ces pays continue de résister au tsunami de l’Histoire récente.

Pendant sept ans, Tomas van Houtryve a arpenté comme nul autre avant lui la Corée du Nord, Cuba, la Chine, le Népal, le Vietnam, le Laos et la Moldavie. Il y a découvert un monde souterrain fait d’espions, de révolutionnaires, d’opposants et d’ouvriers. À travers ses photos, c’est l’écart entre l’idéal communiste et sa mise en oeuvre contrastée dans le monde actuel qu’il a tenté d’explorer.

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