This is a complete facsimile reprint of Daido Moriyama’s 1974 self-published photocopied book of the same name which originated out of his famed “printing show” exhibitions (which in the last couple of years he has reprised in New York, London, and elsewhere). At the time they were issued, only around 100 versions — no two exactly alike — were issued. These facsimile reprints are available in two cover versions — “Stars and Stripes” (pictured), and “Airplane” — and while certainly not cheap, they are an order of magnitude cheaper than what some booksellers would like you to pay for one of the 1974 originals. Available here.
Asako Narahashi has released several small print books since her breakthrough 2007 half awake and half asleep in the water (Nazraeli Press), but this can be considered her first major book since that release, and it sees her continuing to explore the relationship between water and land, or put another way, between a floating indeterminateness and the grounded elements which dominate the landscape. The images in Ever After were shot in Japan, Dubai, Amsterdam, the suburbs of Paris, Santa Monica, Taipei, and elsewhere, between 2002 and 2011. Narahashi explains at the beginning of the interview that accompanies the book (included separately as a booklet), “I think I’ve always had an interest in things which lack a stable state, at least unconsciously perhaps. Although I’m not particularly aware of other people’s shore photography, most seem to be images taken of water as something beautiful. […] In my case, I took these because I wanted to capture something that gives a sense of scale, or artificiality, somewhere in the image, not because I wanted to get closer to nature.” This is a nice large-size book complete with slipcase and the aforementioned interview booklet (bilingual). Available here.
Masayo Ito’s Standard Temperature, a collection of family portraits taken between 1979-1981, began its life as a student project for Ito when she was a BFA student at Musashino Art University’s Department of Visual Communication Design in Tokyo. In fact, it was her graduation thesis and garnered her the Department’s “Laboratory Prize”. Her biography characterizes Standard Temperature as “photos from random visits with Tokyo families”, which would imply she just pounded on apartment flats randomly until she found subjects willing to sit for portraits. The results, however, belie such arbitrariness, and without any background knowledge — Ito’s own afterword is itself ambiguous about who these people are — one feels sure that even if not Ito’s own friends and family, Ito must have known these people fairly well to capture them as intimately as she has done. Available here.
Hiromi Tsuchida is best known for his exploration of the effects of Japan’s postwar economic boom in Zokushin and Counting Grains of Sand. However, he has also devoted a considerable body of work exploring the WWII-scarred cities of Hiroshima and Berlin, producing at least three books on the former, and two on the latter. These works often feature photos taken over different periods which are then juxtaposed, or as in the case of his first Berlin book The Berlin Wall, by digitally superimposing the words “East” and “West” to note which part of the wall was which. The 2011 book entitled simply Berlin brings together photographs of Berlin shot at three different points of his career, and critically, three different and distinct periods in Berlin’s post-WWII history — 1983, 1999-2000, and 2009. As Rei Masuda writes in one of the book’s two accompanying essays, “The three periods at which Tsuchida was shooting in Berlin correspond to three phases in the history of the Berlin Wall: existence, disappearance, and memory.” Available here.
In addition to the new titles in the store, we’ve recently added some book spread photos for the following titles:
The latest iteration of Daido Moriyama’s “Record”, number 13, arrived here at Japan Exposures a few weeks ago and upon diving into it’s black and white goodness, it was immediately apparent that there was something not quite the same with this issue. Could it be the number 13 working its unlucky magic? For starters, unlike previous issues and indeed 90% of Moriyama’s ouevre, the printing wasn’t full bleed, ie. there were actual white borders on the edges of the page. The design also didn’t exclusively feature the customary one photo per page layout of the other issues but had several spreads of smaller individual photos. But perhaps the most tell-tale sign that something different was afoot were the photos themselves, or more specifically, the texture — there was a noticeable lack of grain to the images. Unsettling indeed.
Returning to the cover we so hurriedly skipped past, we have the familiar Moriyama leitmotif of the reflected storefront window self-portrait. And herein lies the rub: Upon closer inspection, the camera obscuring Moriyama’s face seems a whole lot bigger than the Ricoh and Olympus point and shoots he normally carries — indeed, it’s big enough that Moriyama can be seen carrying using both of his hands to hold it. Wait a minute. That isn’t an old-school Polaroid Land camera he’s holding there, now is it? A flip to the afterword later, we get our confirmation:
The black-and-white shots featured in this issue were taken with FUJIFILM INSTANT B&W FP-400B film, using a POLAROID LAND CAMERA MODEL 180 that was given to me by a former student.
The 180 model is a Polaroid camera produced between 1965-1969 and accepts sub-4×5 in. size 100/660-Series Land Pack Films. Of course, Polaroid pack film is no longer with us, but it was long unknown outside of Japan that there is a substitute made by Fujifilm, in even greater variety (and arguably, quality) than the original Polaroid material. It is still readily available and offers may creative possibilities. How else otherwise would Moriyama have been able to impose his hallmark contrast and tonal range onto the photographs?
The Fujifilm instant pack films are the peel-apart type, which means you have control over the development time and with careful balancing of exposure and development there are endless creative possibilities. On top of that, these black and white instant films carry the suffix “Speedy” or “Super Speedy” which refers to the rapid development times which are around 15 to 30 seconds. Surely, anything longer would inhibit the creative process by slowing down the photographer. Now all you need to be careful about is to let their surface dry before stacking them together in your pocket.
It would seem that Bye Bye Polaroid was not the final farewell to Moriyama’s exploitation of instant films we thought it was.
Please see the Japan Exposures Stores for the film of the book — and vice versa.
Over the last decade the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has established itself as one of the best American museums to see Japanese photography. Senior curator of photography Sandra Philips curated the first North American retrospectives for Shomei Tomatsu and Daido Moriyama. Continuing this focus, assistant curator Lisa Sutcliffe has two new exhibits at the museum, “The Provoke Era: Postwar Japanese Photography” and Photography Now: China, Japan, Korea.” “Provoke” offers a concise introduction to the generation of photographers that Tomatsu and Moriyama were a part of, while “Photography Now” shows how Japanese photography has become even more diverse in the last decade. Both exhibits run through December 20th.
Provoke is the magazine most often associated with the generation of photographers working in the 1960s and 1970s – even those that did not actually publish in the magazine. It is an example of a small, short-lived, but legendary publications, whose influence is still felt. Early editions had print runs of just 1,000. In 2001 Steidl published “Japanese Box“, featuring reprints of the magazine, but with a price of $2,000. More recently, a flickr tribute group named after the magazine has collected 4,000 images in the Provoke-style. The images are by photographers from around the world, many of whom have never seen the original publication.
When Americans picture Japan during its economic boom of the 1960s, it usually involves the optimistic marketing images from Datsun, Olympus and Sony. In stark contrast, these photographs with their are-bure-bokeh style refute the vision of a unified land made up of smoothly-functioning corporations and their employees. We see Tomatsu’s photographs of the Shinjuku riots, Kohei Yoshiyuki’s voyeuristic expeditions in Tokyo’s public parks and Hosoe’s well-known photograph of Yukio Mishima wrapped in a garden hose.
The “Provoke Era” exhibit is not large, with less than 100 photographs all from the SFMOMA’s collection, yet it manages to select a handful of works from each photographer. There are many well-known works, but also photographs only found in out-of-print books. The exhibit traces changes in style from the mid-1940’s, through the late 1970s and even the 1990s, using the 1995 Kobe earthquake to mark the end of the post-war era and the exhibit.
One of the many things this exhibit does well is give a sense of the art of the photo book, something that is still a challenge for museum exhibits. “The Provoke Era” acknowledges the importance of books with with wall text and vitrines that display books (and magazines) in every gallery. Many of the prints on the wall have a work print quality, which they often were, with the book or magazine displayed in the vitrine being the end goal. There are exceptions, the most notable is “La Nuit” (1968), a series of photogravures by Provoke’s founding editor Takuma Nakahira. At this size and resolution, the are-bure-bokeh feels like it is being used precisely, with a specific intention.
Japan Exposures asked curator Lisa Sutcliffe a few questions about the exhibits.
Interview and review by Wayne Bremser for Japan Exposures
Japan Exposures: Many photographs in this exhibit respond to the detonation of nuclear bombs over civilian populations in Japan. Shomei Tomatsu carefully document the immediate aftermath, the burned objects and scarred human flesh. What influence did this event have in the work of the photographers that never directly confronted the subject?
Lisa Suttcliffe: The bomb was the single-most influential event on postwar Japanese society. Many of these photographers were children during the war and grew up in the tumultuous postwar atmosphere. Japanese national identity was deeply affected by the bomb and the defeat in the war. Some photographers made work that referenced the bomb symbolically – for example, Kikuji Kawada made photographs of veterans and relics of the war that created a memorial. These visual fragments represent the multiple layers of memory and history. The work of later photographers from Provoke, such as Daido Moriyama and Takuma Nakahira, reflects the incendiary political atmosphere. Their dark urban scenes are punctuated by bright flashes of light that indirectly reference the immediacy and violence of the bomb.
JE: Moriyama, Araki, (and thanks in part to the SFMOMA exhibit) Tomatsu are now well-known in the US. Is there a photographer in the exhibit that you think deserves greater recognition?
LS: All of them! The whole generation of postwar photographers made interesting and revolutionary work that is enhanced by seeing them together. If I had to pick one it would be Masahisa Fukase, whose varied body of work is deeply haunting, melancholic, and beautiful. His best known work comes from Karasu (Ravens), published in 1986. In this series he travels throughout Japan making photographs that reveal his dark psychological mood after he was estranged from his wife. Our exhibition also offers a good chance to see rare photogravures made by Takuma Nakahira from his series “La nuit.” The richly dark prints are a dramatic, and unsettling examination of urban street culture. (And they are really stunning to see together at this size).
“ Japan had no culture of fine print photography in the 1960s and 1970s. ”
JE: While these photographers have different subject matter and styles, frequent book publishing was common in the group. You’ve included many books from the period, displayed in vitrines. Aperture’s recently released volume, Japanese Photobooks of the 60s and 70s is a good companion to the exhibit. Why was the photo book a primary medium for so many Japanese photographers? How do you think creating collections of work rapidly, publishing and then moving to the next book, shaped the work of these artists?
LS: You’re absolutely right. The Aperture volume is a fantastic reference for these revolutionary and prolific books. I love how it shows multiple page spreads from the selected books. As a country that popularized the woodblock print the print medium of books and magazines was a natural outlet. They’re really more like art objects than books. Japan had no culture of fine print photography in the 1960s and 1970s. Instead they published their work in books and magazines. The book as object was a vital aspect of this culture and the photographers had this in mind as they produced and sequenced their work. Moriyama and Nakahira sought to emphasize the format of the book and that certainly would have affected their artistic choices. Each picture is part of a whole series and they function together. There is less insistence on the single famous image.
In addition, Moriyama and others embraced Warhol’s philosophy of the consumer culture driven nature of photography. The concept of the photograph as a “copy” was an important part of their philosophy. Both Moriyama and Araki made books on Xerox machines. The fine art print was not the preferred end product for them. I had to show the books and it was a shame I couldn’t show more than one page from each. This is one of the most important aspects to the exhibition that I hope people understand.
JE: You’ve included many photographs of women by this group of male photographers, such as Hosoe’s “Man + Woman 6” and the four photographs from Moriyama’s “Hotel, Shiyuba.” How is the era’s view of women reflected in their photographs? How has the view and role of women in photography changed between the Provoke era and work seen in “Photography Now”?
LS: I’m so glad you picked up on this. There are actually no female photographers in the entire Provoke exhibition. (There were a few female artists at this time, but they are not in the show). The attitude toward women reflects a “macho” point of view – women are portrayed as sexual objects, objects of desire, and are often seen engaging in the act of sexual intercourse with the photographer. It was a boys club – male artists, publishers, etc. Obviously, it is much different now. There are so many female photographers working in Japan and many of them are represented in Photography Now. The attitude toward women has changed as well, as it has throughout the world. I wanted to highlight this shifting attitude because it is reflected in the work.
JE: In the first gallery of Japanese photographs in “Photography Now” you offer some interesting comparisons. Younger photographers have a different photographic approach, while the Provoke photographers have changed their styles. A wonderful comparison is between Miyako Ishiuchi’s photos of her mother’s burn scars (not from the nuclear bomb) with Tomatsu’s. What are the major changes you are trying to illustrate with the selection in the Japanese gallery of the “Photography Now” exhibit?
LS: There is a very stark contrast between the postwar work and the contemporary gallery. The major change is that there are many varied aesthetic styles (color!), voices and themes. Many of the photographers working during the Provoke Era were united by a grainy, blurry, black and white graphic style and an urge to create a new visual language that challenged photographic conventions. The more recent work reveals artists working in diverse methods including color, black and white, and large format, and dealing with various issues such as the changing urban landscape, cultural identity and appropriation and poetic domestic daily details. There are also quite a few women, who nearly dominate the show. The work is driven toward a more personal vision. Rinko Kawauchi makes pictures of very poetic domestic moments. Miyako Ishiuchi carefully examines her mother, contrasting the texture of her scarred skin with the lacy undergarments which still hold her shape after her mother’s death. It is a no longer the desire to create a national memorial, but a personal one.
We have created another in our series of video looks at recent photobooks, this time focusing on the two just-published collections of work that Daido Moriyama published in various photography magazines from 1965 to 1974. The two books together collect over 90 different series from a time when seemingly you could not pick up an issue of one of the two major photo monthlies of the time — Camera Mainichi and Asahi Camera — and not find a Moriyama photo essay in them.
I fully admit that sometimes the Moriyama publishing juggernaut tends to overwhelm in its recent Araki-like incarnation, but in this case these two companion volumes are to me completely justified. By reproducing the essays exactly as they were first published, with their original layout, typography, and captions, we get a unique insight into how the Provoke aesthetic of are, bure, bokeh took shape in the mind of its dominant proponent, and what’s more, the books bring us closer to experiencing the vibrant experimentation that characterized Japanese photography at the time.
Nippon Gekijou 1965-1970
Photographs by Daido Moriyama
Published in 2009 by Getsuyosha; softcover with dustcover; 410 plates (365 b/w, 45 color); 26cm x 18cm; occasional English translations contained in the original photo essays are available, but in general the text in the book is all Japanese.
Nani ka e no tabi 1971-1974
Photographs by Daido Moriyama
Published in 2009 by Getsuyosha; softcover with dustcover; 484 plates (334 b/w, 150 color); 26cm x 18cm; occasional English translations contained in the original photo essays are available, but in general the text in the book is all Japanese.
It seems like the other day we were announcing a new Daido Moriyama title in this space, his great Northern, and already we have heard that this book is going out of print. The publisher or Moriyama (or a combination of both, perhaps) have decided not to go to a second printing, and what is out there on store shelves now is all there will be. Needless to say, we have a few of those copies ourselves, so order now or be prepared to pay substantially more in the future. I should also add that, although we have not advertised it as such, the copies we have been selling so far have been signed by the artist. (Please note: We will do our best to obtain signed copies of Northern for orders placed in the next couple of weeks, but we CANNOT guarantee it.)
Northern was one of the books we recently featured in a video review, which should provide you with a taste of this book that is well worth owning.
UPDATE (September 16, 2009): Signed copies are now completely sold out and we will not be able to get any more. Non-signed copies are still available for a limited time.
As many of you are no doubt aware, there is a wealth of wonderful photography books being published every year in Japan. Trouble is, they don’t come cheap, whether you are lucky enough to find them on your side of the world or you order them from places like the Japan Exposures bookstore, especially when shipping costs are factored in. This makes it difficult for many people to take a chance on books by unknown photographers — and frankly that’s a shame. Recently I’ve been wondering if there isn’t more we here at Japan Exposures can be doing to, er, expose these books more.
This is the impetus for this video look at four new or recent publications, three of which are by photographers I feel comfortable in saying are unknown to the majority of our readership. All four books share in common the fact that the photographs were taken in the period of the 60s and 70s, and while each in its own right is a wonderful book, they seemed to resonate off of each other particularly well. In order of discussion, the four books featured in the above video are:
The Blue Period 1973-1979
Photographs by Akiyoshi Taniguchi Published in 2009 by Sokyusha (ltd. run of 500 copies); hardcover (cloth) in slipcase; 64 pages/53 plates (all b/w); 23cm x 25cm; includes English translations of afterword and photographer profile.
Photographs by Daido Moriyama Published in 2009 by Tosho Shinbun; softcover with obi; approx. 200 pages/190 plates (all b/w); 30cm x 21cm; Japanese text only; includes DVD (Japanese only) slideshow with brief footage of interview with Moriyama.
Photographs by Alao Yokogi Published in 2006 by Ascom; softcover with obi; approx. 344 pages/320 plates (all b/w); 30cm x 21cm; essay in Japanese only (photo captions include English). (Unfortunately out of print. Please contact us if you would like us to try to find this book for you.)