Issei Suda perceives reality with a double eye. While acknowledging Japan’s leap into modernity, he relies on a centuries-old aesthetic style. In order to do so, however, he employs a visual medium that was itself introduced to Japan by the West. This is what I believe to be Suda’s originality: the tension between the ordinary and the singular, between tradition and modernity.
Ferdinand Brüggemann, Director
Galerie Priska Pasquer, Cologne
Iwao Yamawaki, Bauhaus Building, Southern View, Dessau, 1930-32.
Iwao Yamawaki is an interesting figure at the intersection of modernism and the history of Japanese photography. He began his career as an architect but became dissatisfied with Japanese practices. For that reason he travelled to Germany in 1930, where he enrolled as a student of the Bauhaus in Dessau. He started studying architecture at the Bauhaus, but soon moved on to the photography section where he produced architecture photography, portraits, still-lifes and photomontages. The photographic methods of Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Walter Peterhans had a big influence on him. Yamawaki continuously analysed the relationship between photography and the design of spaces, and he often tried to interpret the connection between human beings and architectural space in his pictures.
A portrait of Jun’ichirō Tanizaki (right), from Tadahiko Hayashi’s 1971 book 日本の作家 (Japanese Literary Figures). Presumably that is Tanizaki’s wife on the left, but the person is unmentioned in the photo’s caption.
Compare and contrast with another Hayashi photo of a novelist.
From “Early Days” by Tomoko Sawada
When I started to take pictures, I loved my image taken in photos, which looked attractive and cute. I could make myself look like a model or an actress in pictures. As I looked at my pictures again and again, the gap between my real image and my image in a picture widened. In other words, my appearance could be changed easily, but my personality did not change.
Tomoko SAWADA via PingMag
Tomoko Sawada, ID400 (#1-100) (detail), 1998-2001
© Gueorgui Pinkhassov / Magnum Photos, 1996, A hotel in the Akasaka area, Tokyo
See more pictures of the story here.
» find more of Magnum Photos here «
Photographer Eikoh Hosoe with mobile phone and beer in Poland
Sumiko Yagawa (1931-2002) was a novelist, poet, and children’s author. Her retelling of the Japanese folk tale The Crane Wife is available in English. For 10 years, she was married to literary bad boy Tatsuhiko Shibusawa, who as a translator of the works of Marquis de Sade was tried and successfully prosecuted for obscenity in 1969. In 1962 Shibusawa published an article about Hans Bellmer which included a photo of one of Bellmer’s dolls. It was this picture that so inspired Simon Yotsuya that he changed the way he made his own dolls.
In 1981 the photographer Nobuyoshi Araki directed a soft core porno film The Pseudo Diary of a High School Girl for Nikkatsu, Japan’s oldest film studio, which had in the 1970s turned to producing almost exclusively roman porno (e.g. “romantic pornography”) to save itself from financial collapse. During this adult film heyday, they were churning out on average three films a month.
Araki not only directed the film, but documented with his more familiar still camera the behind the scenes makings of the film, released as the above book. The cover refers to him as a (wink, wink) “virgin” director, and the promotional obi calls him a “horny genius.”
Araki himself, many years later, didn’t exactly look fondly upon the experience.