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This website wants to start a conversation on the photobooks shown at CONTEMPORARY JAPANESE PHOTOBOOKS running from 13 July - 9 September 2012 at the Photographer's Gallery, London curated by photographer Jason Evans and Tokyo-based publisher Ivan Vartanian.

Please comment on the books you have seen, join in on the discussions or start your own topic on the broader theme of Japanese photobooks.

For more information on the show, please visit the exhibition's website.


本サイト「>CONTEMPORARY JAPANESE PHOTOBOOKS」とは、ロンドンのPhotographers' Galleryで開催された展覧会(7月14日〜9月9日)の姉妹企画です。イギリス人の写真家ジェーソン・エヴァンス(Jason Evans )とゴリーガ社のアイヴァン・ヴァルタニアン(Ivan Vartanian)による、2人のキューレーションで行われてます。コンメントの投稿、トピック作りでも、ご自由に参加して下さい。日本語でも可能です。


The Photographers

Nothing shaking (but the leaves in the books)

Seventeen months ago, an earthquake jolted Japan. Almost 16 thousand people are known to have died, and almost three thousand additional people are still unaccounted for and (other perhaps than for legal purposes) must be presumed to be dead. Let’s be conservative and add this up to a mere 18 thousand people.

It’s been quite some time since Britain experienced any natural disaster of a comparable scale (try http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_disasters_in_Great_Britain_and_Ireland ), though the “blitz” on London killed more (and was of course itself dwarfed by the allies’ carpet-bombing of German and Japanese cities).

With the background of all this, and destroyed nuclear reactors as well, this set of books looks curiously otherworldly. One reason is that many of them predate March 2011. And of course if a book was in the works at that time there was no reason to abort it (other than the interruption of paper supplies, etc). Also, most photographers aren’t, and shouldn’t be, subject to any requirement to be “relevant”. And the curators weren’t and shouldn’t have been under any obligation to acquire or show a representative selection of books (they’re strong on small furry animals but ignore other commercially important genres, e.g. girls almost spilling out of their bikinis). Still, you might (and I do) wonder where the destruction is.

Obviously, there’s http://contemporaryjapanesephotobooks.tumblr.com/post/27348570830/shinsai-ichinen-zenkiroku . I don’t know this particular book, but I think I recognize the genre: very photojournalistic and very informative, IFF you can read Japanese.

There’s also Sasaoka’s series of leaflets, exemplified by http://contemporaryjapanesephotobooks.tumblr.com/post/27246368708/keiko-sasaoka-remembrance-2 . These go with exhibitions of large prints (at large prices) of deadpan views. Rather too obviously art-museum fodder for my taste, though perhaps I was too chilled by the air conditioning when I viewed a sample.

http://contemporaryjapanesephotobooks.tumblr.com/post/27246438928/michio-wahio-the-snap-shot looks relevant but it predates the earthquake by four years.

There’s also http://contemporaryjapanesephotobooks.tumblr.com/post/27390814787/kazuhiko-washio-on-the-horizon , though you wouldn’t guess it from the cover. Indeed, you wouldn’t (or at least I didn’t) guess anything from the cover. It’s the slim and modestly priced catalogue for a small exhibition of B/W views.

Have I overlooked anything else here? Not that I’m complaining; I’m just wondering. Because I’m interested in such books (if they’re good).

Hatakeyama’s work (which I haven’t seen) has been praised:
http://www.americanphotomag.com/photo-gallery/2012/07/wall-naoya-hatakeyama-sfmoma . Dan Abbe rates it highly too, together with Rolls Tohoku. Rolls Tohoku http://www.rolls7.com isn’t alone; there’s also Kids Photo Journal http://www.kidsphotojournal.org/ (which has produced at least one photobook). And if there’s ever a “Contemporary Japanese Photobooks 2”, I could recommend some other good photobooks too.

Tags The Photographers' Gallery contemporary japanese photobooks contemporaryjapanesephotobooks discussions submission