Gigi Giannuzzi by
Gigi Giannuzzi is wonderfully grim. He has a darkness of spirit that glows from within. On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of Trolley Books, the photography book publishing house that he founded and has operated since its birth in London, Giannuzzi shared his thoughts on producing work of integrity, work designed to inspired and provoke, work that comes from a desire to connect and share powerful stories with the world.
Over the past decade, Trolley has published an incredible array of provocative books, from the devastating photojournalism studies of Philip Jones Griffiths (Agent Orange) and Pierpaolo Mittica (Chernobyl: The Hidden Legacy) to the brilliant collections Taliban (photographs found by Thomas Dworzak) and Official Portraits (photographs of world leaders given to the United Nations for publicity use) to the classic style books Gentlemen of Bacongo and Buffalo: Ray Petri.
Giannuzzi is the modest mastermind behind this stellar list; the inspiration for the name Trolley came from his earlier days at book fairs, when he was sure to be spotted wheeling around a piece of luggage full of dummies and proposals in need of happy homes. In fact, it was at Frankfurt Book Fair that I first met Giannuzzi, who proudly showed me a collection of photographs titled The ABCs of Garbage. Equally horrified and amused, I was immediately a fan for there was no one in the industry with half the panache, testosterone, and humanity of this man.
“I have a deep curiosity about humankind and the way people lives their lives,” Giannuzzi reveals. “And books have a physical presence, they don’t fade a way and people can read them later. I get satisfaction from touching people’s hearts and reaching them.” As a publisher, Giannuzzi is a leader, following a path to truth and enlightenment. He is committed to telling the side of the story that receives little to no coverage in our media, whether it is the Israeli attack on Gaza in 2008 or the stories of those who have been abused by the clergy and forced into silence for years. Giannuzzi’s commitment to speak truth to power, to show the world the terrors it has tried to bury behind lies and propaganda, is a testament to the importance of photography book publishing in the digital age. Here it is, a permanent record that cannot be erased.
Originally from Rome, Giannuzzi has the Italian artisan’s touch; with each book he works with the author to produce the perfect object. He is an art director and a production manager and an editor wrapped up in one; he goes on press with each book, printing in Italy, the land where photography books have become a form of art unto themselves. Forgoing the cheap costs of printing in China, Giannuzzi’s commitment to the extraordinary industry of his native country is both a tribute to the work of the Italians as well as a statement of quality; unit price is less important than a work of beauty.
“Details give feeling to the book,” Giannuzzi observes, “Every little details brings together something that you want to hold in your hand—or not.”
Indeed, the evidence is clear in the wording of the 2005 special commendation from the Kraszna-Krausz Book Awards that Trolley received for its outstanding contribution to photography book publishing. As the award declared clearly, Trolley presented “(an) exceptional and extraordinary group of books exploring a range of difficult subject matter…Trolley’s beautifully designed and produced books have a real sense of conviction and purpose that sets them apart.”
In addition to operating the publishing house, Giannuzzi opened Trolley Gallery in London in 2003 because he wanted to live in a gallery. As he described to Photoespana, “We decided to move there, and initially used the space to show exhibitions related to the books and artists we knew already. Inevitably there was some cross-over between the two worlds of publishing and the area being full of artists we were friends with… The gallery has continued in this tradition of presenting emerging artists who haven't had major solo shows anywhere before. In some ways it's quite separate from the publishing programme, but there are many times where they combine, and everything is of course run from under the same roof.”
And it is under that roof that Giannuzzi now sits, celebrating a decade in the industry as one of the most original, innovative, and iconoclastic photography book publishers that has ever lived.
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