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:
It may be different where you are, but here in Japan it is positively sweltering and incredibly difficult to drag oneself outside into the heat unless absolutely necessary. Social life and environmental concerns be damned, here at the Japan Exposures we want to do nothing more than to stay inside, pour ourselves a cool beverage, crank up the air-conditioner, and flip through our photo book library. We suspect it may be the same for you.
To that end we have put a number of books on sale from now until August 31st — although the pessimist in us worries the heat may last longer! While not all titles can claim anything but a slim connection with summer, we did try to cater to vicariousness in our selection, so if you’re looking to experience summer from afar, you might be interested in some of these:
Cell, by Taiji Matsue ￥4,990￥4590. Truth be told, while there are no doubt shots in this 2008 AKAAKA-published book taken in summer, it’s the book’s cover featuring a swimming pool that gets us in the summer mood. Good thing then that this sampling shows that indeed, there are more pools to dive into.
Hawaii, by Daido Moriyama ￥8,990￥7,990. What says “summer” more than Hawaii, where it is basically summer all year round? This large tome has plenty of suntan-oiled bodies and floral print wraparounds, not to mention plenty of sand, er, grain. Ample samples here (not all from “Hawaii” though). Bonus points for Moriyama’s high contrast b/w making the surf and sand seem cooler than it probably is.
The Long Vacation, by Mitsugu Onishi ￥3,990￥3,490. The English title of this work is somewhat misleading. A more accurate translation of the Japanese title might be “The Distant Summer”, and this book has a somewhat “Summer of ’42” feel to it although it is Tokyo in the 1990s, with enough summer festivals, embarrassing hairstyles and stonewashed jeans to have you glad we now live in 2010, although the heat has probably only gotten worse.
There are more deals from where these came from, and while we can’t claim all will cool you down, they might provide some small protection from this summer’s other burning topic, the strengthening yen.
The thing about Daido Moriyama books is that as nice as they are, by now they certainly won’t surprise anyone. You know what you’re going to get the moment you see the cover. Ginza? Buenos Aries? Hawaii? You know exactly how the pictures are going to look. As a native Nebraskan I can tell you that if Moriyama were to spend a week shooting in the Cornhusker State the inevitable collection is going to look just like Moriyama does Nebraska. And it probably wouldn’t look all that different than his pictures of anywhere else he has photographed. Until the other day the only book by Moriyama that I had in my collection was the cheaper of his two Hokkaido books.
To me Moriyama had always been one of those photographers whose work was never all that interesting and it wasn’t until his Hokkaido show at Rathole gallery in early 2009 when it clicked. I found his exhibited work extremely moving, the gravity of which was revealed in a gallery setting with prints metaphorically layering upon one another to create a dizzying experience. I went five times to that show. In print (as opposed to prints) the books felt flat. Literally his pictures are layered on one another in book form but nearly all of his books were too constricting, too much about the book than the images to be of much personal interest.
So the other day at Sokyusha, the preeminent photo book publisher in Tokyo, I surprised myself by purchasing a copy of Moriyama’s recent book Nagisa. As I flipped through it, from behind the counter Ota-san, the shop owner, mentioned that this collection is simply of Moriyama’s current love interest, a kabukicho & kayokoku singer named Yoko Nagisa. While my photography book collection might be lean on Daido Moriyama, books featuring lovers or wives of Japanese photographers are well represented. Looking at it in the context of such a book it was doubly interesting.
Yoko. What else could her name be but Yoko?
On one hand Nagisa follows that grand tradition of Japanese photo books centering on a singer or musical act. On the other hand it follows the other even grander tradition of Japanese photo books in that it are collections of photos of a lover. Since both of those hands belong to Moriyama it is very much the book you might imagine when hearing “Daido Moriyama’s Kabukicho lounge singer girlfriend love story”. If you know much about any of the words in the previous sentence you probably have a good idea as to how this book looks.
The book is handsome. It’s thick, visually dense, and features exquisite printing. Laid out flat it pulls the viewer in. Plus she is gorgeous. But for as hefty as the book is and for as distantly beautiful as Ms. Nagisa is there isn’t much development of her or her relationship with the photographer throughout all 200+ pages. She makes a good picture, hell, Moriyama makes a great picture and that’s what this comes down to. It’s two people good at what they do – one skilled with a camera, the other one looking great with eyeshadow in vintage outfits, moody bars, back streets of Shinuku, singing at Moriyama exhibitions, on desolate beaches, in the last train car, or among cherry trees in bloom. Sometimes it is several of these things at once.
But for every moody monochromatic sunset or languid look off into the distance one might feel that what’s not captured is true personal development. We don’t know any more about Yoko Nagisa by the last few pages than we could gather from the first ones. Moriyama’s Yoko is certainly not Araki’s Yoko. That said, maybe we don’t need to expect intense character development or a Deep Story when looking at collections like this. A beautiful book can be just that. In this way this collaboration between these two performers has resulted in something well worth a look.
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.
Photo-eye recently posted their annual “Best Books” feature, with a whole host of photographers and photo people submitting their top 10 books of 2009. Naturally I was interested to see what Japanese books made the grade, but was rather disappointed that on the whole so few Japanese books were chosen. This is I’m sure due in large part to a lack of access to books published here (but hey, Japan Exposures is here to help!), but I do wonder if the paucity of Japanese choices means the general feeling is that 2009 was a poor year for photography books from Japan.
The other Japanese photography books that made the various lists:
The Joy of Portraits, by Keizo Kitajima (John Gossage, Lesley A. Martin) — If you’re interested in acquiring this 13-pound, 2-volume set for a reasonable price, please get in touch; or you could content yourself with the catalog from Kitajima’s Tokyo retrospective from last Fall.
Portraits of Silence, by Hisashi Shimizu (Daniel Espeset) — Glad to see this moving book recognized.
Cui Cui, by Rinka Kawauchi (Tricia Gabriel) — Mind you this book was published in 2005, but who’s counting 😉
Kamaitachi, by Eikoh Hosoe (Sara Terry) — a 1969 book, but since this was republished in a trade edition in 2009 we won’t complain.
Binran, by Masato Seto (Michael Wolf) — technically from 2008.
Like I said, not much love as far as Japanese photography books goes.
Here are my very subjective choices for favorite books published in Japan last year:
Citizens, by Jun Abe (published January 11, 2009) If it weren’t for the “1979 – 1983” subtitle that very subtly accompanies this work from Jun Abe, there would be very little to belie the fact that these photos are 25 – 30 years old. And aside from that information, there is nothing else by way of context — but who needs it? You only need this book, and the hope that the maligned genre of street photography doesn’t get trampled by privacy pushers and the “right to my own likeness” brigade.
“Magazine Work” set, by Daido Moriyama (September, 2009) Many Daido Moriyama publications in 2009 (by my count there were at least 10 new Moriyama books relased in 2009, which is getting into prolific Araki territory). Of them all, I think that the two volumes of magazine work from the sixties and seventies, Nippon Gekijo and Nani ka e no tabi are particularly worthy additions to the Moriyama canon and essential to understanding his development as an artist. Honorable Moriyama mention for Northern, in some ways the most un-Moriyama book since the 2005 Takuno.
Tokyo Zenritsusengan, by Nobuyoshi Araki (October, 2009) 2009 was a very lean book year by Nobuyoshi Araki’s normal assembly line standards, and this book published toward the end of 2009 told us why — Araki was diagnosed with prostrate cancer in 2008, which understandably limited his creative output. Maybe it’s the backstory working its magic, but this book for me feels more heartfelt and intimate than an Araki book has felt in some time. Bonus points for the slightly unconventional binding.
Yasuhiro Ishimoto “Multi-Exposure” (exhibition catalog, May, 2009) Nothing better than to visit a small, out of the way exhibition at some outlying university campus of one of your favorite photographers and find that they have accompanied said exhibition with a lovingly produced catalog that presents the work in a unique way and features contextual essays about said favorite photographer and said exhibition in English. This catalog of Yasuhiro Ishimoto’s multiple exposure collages produced by Musashino was such a catalog.
Tokyo Y-Junctions, by Tadanori Yokoo (published October, 2009) When I came across famed graphic designer Tadanori Yokoo’s book of paintings Y-Junction (2006), which take as their subject the Y-shaped intersections of Tokyo, I found myself fascinated by the serial nature of the work, and how photographic the project felt — helped in part by Yokoo’s desision to pair each intersection painting with a collage of photo studies he had made of the same intersection. So it was curious to see that Yokoo decided to make a separate project of these intersections, but this time consisting only of photographs — surely overkill, no?. But the resulting mix of part “Tokyo Nobody” Masataka Nakano, Becher-like typology, and ephemera-collecting Kyoichi Tsusuki is really a quite wonderful portrait of vernacular Tokyo.
Shomei Tomatsu: Hues and Textures of Nagasaki (exhibition catalog, October, 2009) Unfortunately it seems a very long time since we were treated to a new Shomei Tomatsu book, and so one must content oneself with the Skin of the Nation book of a few years ago, or the omnibus-like catalogs that have accompanied various Tomatsu retrospectives in Japan over the past few years. This catalog from the Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum is everything you’d expect from a museum catalog — which basically means it does the job. But no matter. Any chance to catch up with what Japan’s greatest living photographer (IMHO, of course) has been doing in the “noughties” is one worth grabbing, and with over 309 color photos collected, it’s impossible to be disappointed, not the least because it proves that the near 80-year old Tomatsu is still at the top of his game.
Blue Period 1973-1979, by Akiyoshi Taniguchi (April, 2009) There seem to have been a lot of books published last year of work done in the past, but of those I’m not sure there were any that featured photographs taken by an artist when they were in their teens, besides this one. Akiyoshi Taniguchi — who later studied photography under Leo Rubinfien before becoming a Buddhist priest — shows that while he may have been a teenager, the photos he took evidenced a mature outlook and calm reflectiveness that no doubt have served him well in his current career.
Hana Dorobou, by Eikoh Hosoe (November, 2009) This lovely book by one of Japanese photography’s undisputed masters resurrected a project from the mid-60s that even Eikoh Hosoe himself had forgotten about. Hosoe took some dolls hand made by a famous lingerie designer, put them in decidedly un-doll-like situations, creating a book that can be enjoyed by parents and children alike — if the parent is not averse to dealing with the frank questions that surely will result. Beautifully printed too.
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.