Photobooks of 2018: Maki
As a collector of Japanese photobooks I guess you will not mind me too much having included some of them here. Of course this list is totally subjective since it is impossible to be aware of all the many photobooks that can be published in a year and even less to be able to buy them all, knowing also that the price of the photobooks is constantly rising since the last few years (sometimes without any justification).
White Noise by Takehiko Nakafuji
A book on Japan’s capital Tokyo as a chaotic city. A really successful mix of genres and styles with a brilliant multi-layered design, where behind the photographs on each page lurks another hidden scene. A labyrinthian structures and visual opulence mixing different papers, monochrome and color, full bleed pictures and this multiple reading possibilities encouraging us to imagine and to linger on new proposals of perception of the chaotic Tokyo. Nakafuji san shows us here that he is not only this excellent street photographer that we know but also a photographer in accordance with his time.
CTY by Antony Cairns
At first, when I heard about the release of this book, I doubted of its interest as I thought it would be a new sub-genre essay to look like the Provoke era. But after receiving it I was immediately convinced by the power of the pictures together with the interesting perspective of the texts of Simon Baker. Even if Provoke’s ghost is in some ways present here, the aim is less to question the principle or language of photography than the representation of the city as an infinite subject. The conjunction of paper texture and silver tones with dark, graphic, abstract and science-fictional views of dehumanized cities are like a trip on LSD or maybe some hallucinations resulting from the drinking of some ancient chemical processes for darkroom…
Concrete Octopus by Osamu Kanemura
Like in Nakafuji’s “white Noise” here again it is the chaos of the city which is highlighted. Graphic, experimental and deeply japanese… It is for me one of the best books of the photographer.
Skin Close by Magnus Cederlund
Taking pictures of people living on the edge is not the easiest thing in photography, you have to know how to avoid pitfalls and to reveal the depth of the people you meet in a way that is both simple and profound. That’s what managed to do successfully here Magnus Cederlund.
Masahisa Fukase by Masahisa Fukase
This retrospective book about the life and works of Masahisa Fukase – as always beautifully published by Xavier Barral editions – is an essential book to discover the personality and radicality of the photographer who marked the history of Japanese photography with his book “The solitude of Ravens”. We discover here the different photo series that accompanied the events of the photographer’s life: superimpositions, collages, self-portraits, reworked photographs in drawing, black and white prints, polaroids… This book brings together for the first time all his artistic work presented in 26 photo series. A perfect introduction to the work of one of the major photographers in Japan.
Pigalle people by Jane Evelyn Atwood
Love the small format of this book. Jane Evelyn Atwood is well known for her great closeness with her subject in photography and here it is a part of her life that is unveiled with sincerity and intact emotion since the late 70’s when she knew and followed with a long-term involvement these prostitutes from Pigalle in Paris. The touching text in which she recalls memories about their life in correlation with the photographs immerses us in her story without any artifice and with a real authenticity which makes of this book at the same time a real document on the Pigalle district of the 1970s.
S by Tokyo Rumando
Once again an interesting new book of Tokyo Rumando. As usual, her life as a stripper is at the center of her work. We see her in rehearsal and performing on stage in the Kabukicho clubs of Shinjuku, but also at home at the end of the book. With a predominant message here “Mask off”.
Soholondon by Chris Shaw
A book made (edited and sent to the printer) in just 24 hours can it be a good book ? The answer is yes as it’s the case here. The editing, the spontaneity, the shift from photographic standards, the pure energy that emanates from these portraits that plunge us into the Soho atmosphere in London make of this very limited booklet a success.
Memories of younger days in Shinjuku by Koji Onaka
As an ex-member of Camp, Onaka Koji introduces here some intimate photographic memories from the 80’s when he was living in Shinjuku. This book can also be considered as another interesting document about the photographic effervescence of this decade in Shinjuku. We can see Daido Moriyama, Takuma Nakahira, Masahisa Fukase and many others drinking and talking (one of the pictures was used for the retrospective book about Masahisa Fukase published by Xavier Barral).
Promised Land by Susumu Fujita
Strange and poetic as usual.
Maki is a French photographer who lives in Marseille. He published in 2016 “Gûyu – Allegory” (Timeshow Press). His new book “Japan Somewhere” has been published by Zen Foto Gallery in Tokyo (may 2018). He is publisher of the collection of mini photo books “Media Immediat” (Ed Templeton, Onaka Koji, Morten Andersen, Daisuke Ichiba…) and runs the “Photobooks Collectors” page on Facebook in which he introduce the photobooks he likes and recommends as well as the “Japanese Photography” group. His next exhibition will take place in May 2019 at the Gallery Niepce in Tokyo.
Images: top – CTY by Antony Cairns, below – Concrete Octopus by Osamu Kanemura