ISSEI SUDA | Kanda Tokyo, from the series Fushi Kaden, 1975

Issei Suda, a Master of Japanese Photography | Interview Roland Angst with Ferdinand Brueggemann | Part I

Previously I had posted an interview I did with Mariko Takeuchi on Japanese photography, this time I am posting an interview the Berlin publisher Roland Angst did with me on the Japanese photographer Issei Suda for the first Western monograph in the artist.
Suda is slowly becoming more popular in the West
1)At GALERIE | PRISKA PASQUER we introduced Issei Suda’s work with two solo exhibitions in 2009 and 2013 and frequent presentations at fairs like Paris Photo, AIPAD New York and Art Basel. with his distinct but mysterious 1970s work as a kind of anti-thesis to the raw energy of the Provoke photography.  

Part I of the interview:

Issei Suda, a Master of Japanese Photography | Interview by Roland Angst with Ferdinand Brueggemann

Published in: “Issei Suda – The Work of a Lifetime – Photographs 1968 – 2006“, Only Photography, Berlin, 2011

ISSEI SUDA | "Miura Peninsula, Kanagawa Prefecture", from the series "Fushi Kaden", 1975

ISSEI SUDA | “Miura Peninsula, Kanagawa Prefecture”, from the series “Fushi Kaden”, 1975

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References   [ + ]

1. At GALERIE | PRISKA PASQUER we introduced Issei Suda’s work with two solo exhibitions in 2009 and 2013 and frequent presentations at fairs like Paris Photo, AIPAD New York and Art Basel.
YUTAKA TAKANASHI | Hongo: Manjo Parlor, 6-17-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, from the series "Machi" (Town), 1975

Yutaka Takanashi – Towards the City | Part 4 | Final

This is part four, the final part of my essay “Yutaka Takanashi – Towards the City” for the “Yutaka Takanashi” exhibition catalogue, accompanying the show at the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson.1)Essay: “Towards the City” [French/English]. in: Yutaka Takanashi, published by Éditorial RM, Mexico City and Toluca Éditions, Paris. Published on occasion of the exhibition Yutaka Takanashi, Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris, May 10 – July 29, 2012

[Part 1part 2, part 3]

Machi

Following Toshi-e, Yutaka Takanashi also devoted himself to the traditional side of Japan while remaining with his favourite subject, Tokyo. In 1975, he photographed the city’s old shitamachi suburbs, which had escaped demolition so far. He shows the part of the city that has only given way to modernity to a limited extent, and where the old, traditional prewar Japan has not yet been displaced.

YUTAKA TAKANASHI | Mita, Shiba: Suzuki Steal Shop, 5-20-14 Shiba, Minato-ku, from the series "Machi" (Town), 1977

YUTAKA TAKANASHI | Mita, Shiba: Suzuki Steal Shop, 5-20-14 Shiba, Minato-ku, from the series “Machi” (Town), 1977

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References   [ + ]

1. Essay: “Towards the City” [French/English]. in: Yutaka Takanashi, published by Éditorial RM, Mexico City and Toluca Éditions, Paris. Published on occasion of the exhibition Yutaka Takanashi, Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris, May 10 – July 29, 2012
YUTAKA TAKANASHI | Untitled, from the series "Toshi-e", 1974

Yutaka Takanashi – Towards the City (including a short history of the “Provoke” era), Part 3

This is part three of of my essay “Yutaka Takanashi – Towards the City” for the “Yutaka Takanashi” exhibition catalogue, accompanying the show at the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson.1)Essay: “Towards the City” [French/English]. in: Yutaka Takanashi, published by Éditorial RM, Mexico City and Toluca Éditions, Paris. Published on occasion of the exhibition Yutaka Takanashi, Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris, May 10 – July 29, 2012

[Part 1part 2 and part 4]

 

Scrap Picker and Hunter of Images

In 1966, when his series Tokyo-jin was being published, Yutaka Takanashi formulated his fundamental attitude to the medium of photography. As a photographer, he moved between two extremes – on the one hand, a “hunter of images” who aims to capture the invisible; on the other, a “scrap picker” who only picks up what is visible.2)Yutaka Takanashi, in: Camera Mainichi, no. 1, January 1966, p. 13. Translation in: reference as above Masuda: Field Notes of Light, p. 144.

“[…] two conflicting creatures seem to have settled into my body. One is a ‘hunter of images’ aiming exclusively to shoot down the invisible, and the other is a ‘scrap picker’ who can only believe in what is visible.”

In the Tokyo-jin series, Takanashi was working primarily in “scrap picker” mode, photographing the visible elements of Tokyo, although the “hunter of the invisible” manifested itself in a number of pictures, such as Hachiko Square, Shibuya Station, Shibuya-ku, 1965, in which a girl appears to be reflected in the back of a man in a dark sports jacket leaning on a pane of glass opposite which she is standing.

Yutaka Takanashi: Hachiko Square, Shibuya Station, Shibuya-ku, from the series "Toshi-e", April 25, 1965

Yutaka Takanashi: Hachiko Square, Shibuya Station, Shibuya-ku, from the series “Tokyo-Jin”, , April 25, 1965, published in “Toshi-e”, 1974

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References   [ + ]

1. Essay: “Towards the City” [French/English]. in: Yutaka Takanashi, published by Éditorial RM, Mexico City and Toluca Éditions, Paris. Published on occasion of the exhibition Yutaka Takanashi, Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris, May 10 – July 29, 2012
2. Yutaka Takanashi, in: Camera Mainichi, no. 1, January 1966, p. 13. Translation in: reference as above Masuda: Field Notes of Light, p. 144.
Shomei Tomatsu: Untitled, from the series "Protest, Tokyo", 1969 ©Shomei Tomatsu

Yutaka Takanashi – Towards the City (including a short history of the “Provoke” era), Part 2

This is part two of of my essay “Yutaka Takanashi – Towards the City” for the “Yutaka Takanashi” exhibition catalogue, accompanying the show at the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson. 1)Essay: “Towards the City” [French/English]. in: Yutaka Takanashi, published by Éditorial RM, Mexico City and Toluca Éditions, Paris. Published on occasion of the exhibition Yutaka Takanashi, Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris, May 10 – July 29, 2012

[Part 1part 3 and part 4]

The “Provoke” era

The economic upturn of the 1960s, which established Japan as the third-largest economic power on Earth, took its toll on Japanese society. Particularly in the major cities, the boom led to the decline of traditional structures which in turn left a feeling of uprooting and perspectivelessness among the younger generation.

Especially in the universities, a fundamental opposition developed against the new political, economic and cultural structures that had emerged in the post-war period. In 1968, the resistance manifested itself once again in student protests against the pending extension of the “ANPO” security pact and the Vietnam War.

The sense of alienation and rootlessness felt by the young generation found artistic expression above all in photography from the end of the 1960s.2)See also: Charles Merewether: “Disjunctive Modernity. The Practice of Artistic Experimentation in Postwar Japan”, in: Art, Anti-Art, Non-Art. Experimentations in the Public Sphere in Postwar Japan 1950-1970, Los Angeles 2007, pp. 24-29.

This phase of the upheaval was documented by Shomei Tomatsu in his photo book Oo! Shinjuku. A resident of the Shinjuku district, he zoned in on the public and private lives of the young generation and the student protests which began in Shinjuku.

Shomei Tomatsu: Oh! Shinjuku. Tokyo: Shaken, 1969

Shomei Tomatsu: Oh! Shinjuku. Tokyo: Shaken, 1969

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References   [ + ]

1. Essay: “Towards the City” [French/English]. in: Yutaka Takanashi, published by Éditorial RM, Mexico City and Toluca Éditions, Paris. Published on occasion of the exhibition Yutaka Takanashi, Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris, May 10 – July 29, 2012
2. See also: Charles Merewether: “Disjunctive Modernity. The Practice of Artistic Experimentation in Postwar Japan”, in: Art, Anti-Art, Non-Art. Experimentations in the Public Sphere in Postwar Japan 1950-1970, Los Angeles 2007, pp. 24-29.
Yutaka Takanashi: Untitled, from the series "Toshi-e", 1968

Yutaka Takanashi – Towards the City (including a short history of the “Provoke” era), Part I

In the past years I have been involved in introducing the photographic work of Yutaka Takanashi to the West. In 2009 I wrote an essay on Yutaka Takanashi:”Takanashi’s Magnetic Storm” for the first Western monograph on the artist: “Yutaka Takanashi. Photography 1965-74″.

In 2012 the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson held the first Yutaka Takanashi museum exhibition outside Japan. On this occasion I contributed an essay “Towards the City” to the catalogue to the show.1)Essay: “Towards the City” [French/English]. in: Yutaka Takanashi, published by Éditorial RM, Mexico City and Toluca Éditions, Paris.  Published on occasion of the exhibition Yutaka Takanashi, Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris, May 10 – July 29, 2012  In this text I wrote about Takanashi’s series Toshi-e as well as about his subsequent series Machi (Town) and the (unpublished) series on bars in Shinjuku, Tokyo.
And since  Yutaka Takanashi was the co-founder of the legendary Provoke group I added a short history of the Provoke era.2)A detailed description of the history of the Provoke era isn’t available outside Japan yet…

Yutaka Takanashi, published by Éditorial RM, Mexico City & Toluca Éditions, Paris

Yutaka Takanashi, published by Éditorial RM, Mexico City & Toluca Éditions, Paris

[Part 2, part 3 and part 4]

 

Tokyo

The metropolis of Tokyo is the central theme of 20th century Japanese photography – from the artistic elevation of the city in pictorial images in the early days of the century to the dynamic representation of architecture and urban life based on the “new photography” (a literal translation of the Japanese “shinko shashin”) to the photographic documentation of destruction and reconstruction in the post-war period. In all of its facets, the city of Tokyo reflects the radical change that Japan underwent on its way to becoming an industrial society; it is a breeding ground for social change that also symbolises the collision of tradition and modernity.

Masao Horino: The Character of Greater Tokyo. Art Direction: Takao Itagaki, Chuokoron magazine, Chuokoron-sha October, 1931

Masao Horino: The Character of Greater Tokyo. Art Direction: Takao Itagaki, Chuokoron magazine, Chuokoron-sha October, 1931

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References   [ + ]

1. Essay: “Towards the City” [French/English]. in: Yutaka Takanashi, published by Éditorial RM, Mexico City and Toluca Éditions, Paris.  Published on occasion of the exhibition Yutaka Takanashi, Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris, May 10 – July 29, 2012
2. A detailed description of the history of the Provoke era isn’t available outside Japan yet…
Koichiro Tezuka, Natori, March 11, 2011

After Fukushima

On March 11, 2011 the photographer Koichiro Tezuka was in a helicopter on the way back from Aomori prefecture, North Japan, to Tokyo. While in the air a magnitude 9.0 earthquake hit the Pacific coast of Tôhoku. It was almost probably the strongest earthquake since 1.000 years. The earthquake caused surprisingly minor damage considering the magnitude of the quake.

Koichiro Tezuka immediately began to photograph the earthquake damages, but soon they had to do a stopover at Sendai Airport, Miyagi Prefecture for to refuel the helicopter. But the airport, located very close to the sea was closed due to the earthquake.

Koichiro Tezuka, Natori, March 11, 2011
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Yutaka Takanashi:  Funabashi City: Health Center, from the series "Toshi-e", July 17, 1968

On Yutaka Takanashi: Towards Tokyo

In 1966 Yutaka Takanashi published a 36 pages long spread with 43 photographs introducing his new series titled “Tokyo-jin”, a title which is usually translated as “Tokyoites” or “People of Tokyo”. The series was published in the magazine Camera Mainichi – a photo magazine which was essential documenting contemporary currents in the Japanese photography scene.(Camera Mainichi, 1966, no. 1. In the magazine the title “Tokyo-jin” was translated as “Tokyo Man”. The editor of Camera Mainichi, Shôji Yamagishi, co-curated in 1974 the seminal exhibition on Japanese photography at the MOMA, see the post on John Szarkowski, 2007.)

Yutaka Takanashi: West Exit Square, Shinjuku Station, Shinjuku-ku, 1965 ©Yutaka Takanashi

Photographed 1964-65 “Tokyo-jin” concentrates on the inhabitants of the mega city Tokyo. At that time Tokyo had overcome the severe destructions of World War II and new centers for consumption, mass- and avant-garde culture had emerged, now mainly concentrated in Shinjuku and Shibuya.(Before WWII Ginza and Asakusa were the heart of the avant-garde culture and Western influenced modernity. You can find a color video from 1935 on Ginza and Asakusa in a 2007 post. Today Asakusa is seen as representing the ‘old’ Tokyo. See for example my post on Hiroh Kikai from 2006.) Takanashi’s series shows people in public spaces, in the streets, at department stores, commuting to work – like the fantastic image of an overcrowded subway train -, or spending leisure time together.

Yutaka Takanashi: Shinjuku Station, Shinjuku-ku, February 12, 1965 ©Yutaka Takanashi
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Rinko Kawauchi, Lieko Shiga exhibitions, lectures at Photobook Festival Kassel, Germany

Next week Rinko Kawauchi will join the 3. International Photobook Festival in Kassel, Germany, where she will exhibit works from her series “Utatane” (2001).
I have already written about Rinko  here and here, therefore today just my favourite quote about “Utatane”:

Just when it seems that everything has been photographed, in every possible way, along comes a photographer, whose work is so original that the medium is renewed. Such a photographer is Rinko Kawauchi, who makes simple, lyrical pictures, so fresh and unusual that they are difficult to describe or classify. Her images documentary everyday things, yet could not be described as documentary. They are generally light in tone, yet somehow dark in mood. They are almost hallucinatory, yet seem to capture something fundamental about the psychological mood of modern life.
Garry Badger

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Shomei Tomatsu: Untitled (Hateruma-jima, Okinawa), from the series "The Pencil of the Sun", 1971 © Shomei Tomatsu

Shomei Tomatsu exhibition

It is interesting to have a look at the Western reception of Japanese photography in the last three decades. After a few initial exhibitions on Japanese photography in the 1970s and early 1980s – like the first and seminal show New Japanese Photography at the MOMA 1974 – the Western audience lost interest in this exceptionally productive period of time and in Japanese photography in generally. It took almost a decade that the interest in Japanese photography revitalized, but this time the interest focussed on contemporary Japanese photographers like Nobuyoshi Araki (first solo show in the West 1992), Hiroshi Sugimoto or Toshio Shibata.
Historical Japanese only came into view again at the end 1990s with the world tour of the Daido Moriyama exhibition, produced 1999 by Sandra Phillips at the SFMOMA, and in 2004 with the exhibition “The History of Japanese Photography” by Anne Tucker at the Museum of Fine Art Houston.Ann Tucker’s catalogue will be the reference publication on Japanese photography for many years to come. This kind of meandering reception of Japanese photography led to the surprising result that “the most important figure in Japanese postwar photography” is still much less known as the photographers who developed their work with or against him. Of course this photographer – who had been labeled the “godfather” of Japanese photography by an artist I met in Tokyo recently – is Shomei Tomatsu.

Recently I had the pleasure to initiate the first solo exhibition of Shomei Tomatsu in Germany, which is currently on show at Galerie Priska Pasquer.

Shomei Tomatsu at Galerie Priska Pasquer Cologne
Exhibition: March 13 – April 17, 2010

Shomei Tomatsu: Prostitute, 1957 © Shomei Tomatsu

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