/23 Japan
#23 Japan, Editorial


As we started our visual orientation, we got inspiration from the immediate experience dimension that Szarkowski had identified as the quality most central to Japanese photography, of which, in 1974, he took care in the first major exhibition – with Yôji Yamagishi – held outside the country, at MOMA in New York. What we introduce here is an emotional mapping, like a stone thrown into the water, revealing a small part of the seabed and creating a wave that spreads in concentric circles: from authors projects based on a delicate balance between expression’s autonomy and complex relationship with Western photography, we pushed our research further searching for their roots with authors that expressed themselves in an extremely lively period, that begins after World War II, and who are also presented here with more recent works.

Yôji Yamagishi, on the occasion of the exhibition at MOMA, highlighted that “Japanese photographers usually complete a project in book form, joining in series a number of photographs related by a common subject, theme, or idea.” This wide open dynamic about developing the project, not linked to a rigorous preliminary statement, tend to be present in what is realized by the new generation of authors, who have many mutual points with the photographic research of this side of the world, characterized by abstraction, formalism, experimentation, in an analysis and elaboration context of elements at the base of photographic language and its contamination with new technologies and other media.

I’m not an expert in Japanese photography. Rinko Kawauchi arrives to me before Daido Moriyama’s and even after I met the magic of Suda and Shibata. For me Japanese photography has been above all a female photography, empathic, connected to the body and to the ordinary life, that of Kawauchi, Utsu and Shiga, based on a certain balance of rhythms and tones, suggesting more ikebana than the 70s pacy vision, full of whites and deep dense blacks, in the on going struggle between physical and urban body. Moriyama and many other Japanese photographers taught me to explore, to expand my visual boundaries, to watch more carefully, and I mainly learnt that photography is everywhere. I felt the hunger of taking pictures, the need of addressing to reality in a voracious dialogue, from Narahashi to Nakahira, photography moves, searches, goes out into the world – and with the same curiosity – goes inside the language and turns it into something else. No matter the concept to develop and verify, photography is one of the many ways to investigate reality, measuring, collecting, and at last discover what’s really impressed – images like fish in the net. We pass from masters to youngest without a line, a hierarchy, indiscreet wanderers in a shimmering visual landscape, settling and unsettling through its clichés, and invasions and interferences of international photography. Immediate photos. Physically closer, thanks to a synesthetic approach less bound to the leadership of visual perception. Images associations, passing more through belly, skin and breath than through the structures of the logical linguistic thinking.
—Fiorenza Pinna

Close your eyes and let the images emerge associated with a simple thought. What comes to my mind when I think of Japan or, more precisely, of Japanese photography? What are the pictures that moved me, which I was impressed by, that mostly changed the way I look? Takuma Nakahira, years after the publication of “For a Language to Come” – a milestone of Japanese photography and publishing – called strongly into question the images of his book, whose intention was to dismantle the visual aesthetics of his time, and devoted himself to a different kind of photography, often in color, recently featured in a book edited by Takashi Homma. The plainness of this change is proportional to the depth of critical thinking that underlies it. A common feature to all authors images presented here, which seem to keep moving within the same visual space, in an alternation of solids and voids, contemplation and movement, but above all made by the same serious lightness.

—Chiara Capodici

Special Edition curated by 3/3.