Japan is thousands of miles away from the Western world where photography was born, but its scene is thriving. Not only do they lead the world in camera and printing technology, but from the radical photographers of PROVOKE, to the cutting-edge work of rising stars, its practitioners are internationally recognised and respected; and its photofestivals are are no different in quality or flare. Set within the ancient city of Kyoto, among countless temples, shrines, and imperial palaces, is Japan’s largest international photofestival, Kyotographie. It returns this spring for the seventh time, catching the last of the cherry blossoms – an important season in Japan, symbolic of renewal and the fleeting nature of life.
Japanese photographer Daido Moriyama has won the 2019 Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography, which is worth SEK1,000,000 (approximately £80,700). Moriyama will now have a show at the Hasselblad Center in Gothenburg this autumn, and a new book of his work will be published by Walther König. Born in Osaka in 1938, Moriyama studied photography under Takeji Iwamiya before moving to Tokyo in 1961 to work as an assistant to Eikoh Hosoe. Producing a series of images titled Nippon gekijō shashinchō [published in English as Japan: A Photo Theater], Moriyama created an impressionistic take on the dark side of urban life that soon became synonymous with Provoke magazine, a publication he helped produce in 1969. Celebrating images that were “are, bure, bokeh” [“grainy/rough, blurry, and out-of-focus’], and giving a critical view of post-war Japan, Provoke was short-lived but profoundly influential both at home and abroad. Moriyama is still creating new work, however, recently telling that Hasselblad Foundation that “It’s fun!”. “I just take photos, or want to take photos, so to do that, because my photos are snapshots …
Photo London is back at Somerset House this May for its fifth instalment, with a special exhibition of new and unseen work by this year’s Master of Photography, Stephen Shore, plus Vivian Maier, Roger Fenton, Eamonn Doyle, almost 100 galleries from 21 different countries, and a giant egg sculpture.
Known for his pioneering use of colour photography, Shore’s newest body of work will be shown for the first time in the UK at the fair, as well as a series of 60 small photographs titled Los Angeles, taken through a single day in the city in 1969. “We are honoured to present Stephen Shore as our 2019 Master of Photography,” said Photo London’s founding directors Michael Benson and Fariba Farshad. “As his recent retrospective at MOMA (New York) admirably demonstrated, Stephen is a truly pioneering photographer who has consistently pushed the boundaries of image making throughout a long and successful career.”
When Kanghee Kim started making photographs, it was out of frustration. Due to visa complications, Kim hasn’t been able to leave the US for 10 years, even to visit her relatives back home in Korea, because her entry back into the states isn’t guaranteed. Now 27, Kim moved to New York with her family when she was 14. Getting a green card should have been simple – at the time there was a need for more nurses in the states, and her mother was helping to fill that gap – but their lawyer missed a deadline, and Kim was never able to secure a citizenship. Eventually, she was protected under the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) policy, but her status has made leaving the country too much of a risk. “I really miss Korea, especially over the last few years,” she says. “Korea is the motherland. Whenever I see photos or hear about it I feel a bit torn.” Kim didn’t get into photography until her final year of studying painting at Maryland Institute College …
Alnis Stakle, Latvian photographer, Professor of Photography at the Rigas Stradins University, and curator of Riga Photomonth, on his five stand-out projects of 2018, including a new project at the Museum of Kharkiv School of Photography which has already seen the publication of KOCHETOV by Viktor and Sergey Kochetov
BJP’s annual Cool + Noteworthy issue is back, presenting the people, places and projects that have caught our eye over the past year.
Among this year’s noteworthies is the photographer behind our cover story, Tyler Mitchell, who became the first black cover photographer of American Vogue when he shot Beyoncé for the September 2018 issue. He tells the BJP about his new-found mission since returning home after living in London: “I realised I have a responsibility to be, specifically, a black American photographer and filmmaker.”
We also spotlight Kensuke Koike, a Japanese collagist who gives new life to old photo albums. Koike has attracted a loyal following on Instagram with his savvy cut-and-move videos, making his latest book one of the most anticipated on 2018. Feng Li is another newcomer who has made waves in fashion photography over the past year. This issue we feature Li’s playful fashion shoot in his native Chengdu, a creative city on the rise in China.
“I love how the city is in perpetual metamorphosis. It’s always moving and glowing,” says Jean-Vincent Simonet, who visited Tokyo, Japan for the first time in 2016, and quickly decided he would shoot at night. “Giving a liquid feeling to the photographs made sense to me. It reinforced the psychedelic experience of being in the city”.
People in Japan describe Tokyo as a “living entity” – not just because of the earthquakes and typhoons that regularly stir the capital, but because it is a city in constant flux. At all hours of the day and night, streams of people and cars rush down its huge neon streets, which sprawl out like tributaries into pedestrianised roads, stacked 10 stories high with shops, restaurants and karaoke bars. Vibrant city centres seem to emerge right off the back of darker inner-city suburban streets, which are all connected by colossal highways, and an elaborate train network that dwarfs most other capital cities’.
Publications we loved, and the big news stories from the last month in photobooks – featuring work by Peng Ke, Tom Wood, Paul Reas, Vivian Maier and the post-war PROVOKE group
“I was trained as a sculptor, and this was the first time I had used the camera,” wrote Jacqueline Hassink in the Financial Times in 2011, of her breakthrough project The Table of Power. Between 1993 and 1995 Hassink contacted forty of the largest multinational corporations in Europe, asking to photograph their boardrooms. “I wanted to find a table that symbolised modern society’s most important value: economic power,” she writes. Nineteen refused, while the remaining 21, in Britain, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Switzerland and Italy, eventually agreed.
The book was published in 1996; it was the first time that photographs of these places had been made public, and in the spring of 2009, after the global recession, Hassink decided to revisit the boardrooms. With The Table of Power 2, she examined how boardroom design, revenue and employee numbers had changed over the intervening years.
Hassink, who has died aged just 52, was born in Enschede, the Netherlands, on 15 July 1966. She trained to be a sculptor at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, and then at the Trondheim Academy of Fine Art in Norway, but after graduating in 1992, presented herself mainly as a photographer, publishing nine books – including another celebrated title, Car Girls, in 2009. It was shot over five years at car shows across seven cities in three different continents, including New York, Paris, Geneva, Tokyo, Detroit, and Shanghai, focusing in on differing cultural standards on ideals of beauty on the women paid to pose with the cars.
“How to fill the gap between politics and art? This is both an old and a new problem,” writes Takuma Nakahira, in the afterword to PROVOKE no.1, published 50 years ago this month. Led by some of Japan’s best-known photographers and art critics – including Takuma Nakahira, Koji Taki, and iconoclast Daido Moriyama, who joined from the second issue – the magazine stemmed from the anger and discontent that they felt towards the post-war world. Though it survived only three issues, and was criticised at the time, it is now widely recognised as a ground-breaking publication in the history of contemporary Japanese photography.
The magazines were printed in 1968 and 1969, both turbulent years for politics which featured the May 1968 riots in Paris; the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr and the anti-Vietnam protests in the US; the end of the Prague Spring. In Japan, 1968 was the year that a string of violent student uprisings forced many of the top universities to close.