Hana Dorobou (Signed), by Eikoh Hosoe

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In 1966, Eikoh Hosoe was introduced by his sister-in-law, the photographer Hisae Imai -- who passed away earlier this year -- to women's undergarment designer Yoko Kamoi (1925-1991). By that time, Kamoi was well-known in artist and fashion circles for revolutionizing the undergarments Japanese women wore, and was once described as "someone who has advanced the cause of women's liberation through her underwear designs". But beyond this, Kamoi was an essayist, an exhibited painter, and -- pertinent to this new book -- a maker of handmade dolls.

She presented to Hosoe a series of her handmade dolls and told him, "Do with them what you want." For Hosoe, they were more human than doll, and they seemed to take a life of their own, the scenes he eventually photographed them in seemingly situtations these dolls were getting themselves into -- or so Hosoe felt, so strong was their human-like nature.

Hosoe photographed these situations around his studio in Yotsuya, Tokyo, and even took the dolls -- more companions than props -- on trips to Aomori and Nagano.

The photos were eventually used to illustrate a small book of Kamoi's underwear designs, but only 300 of these were printed. Hosoe would go on to make Kamaitachi (1968) and Embrace (1971), and promptly forgot about the project until earlier this decade when someone found a copy of this long out-of-print book and reminded Hosoe of the project.

Hardcover, with dustcover. 14.8cm x 21cm, 32 b/w photos. Published in 2009. Signed by the artist.