on daido A HOMAGE BY 31 PHOTOGRAPHERS & 21 WRITERS
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Who is this reserved, likeable man from Tokyo that has affected the development of Japanese photography like no other? Which overwhelming energy is behind this fascinating simplicity in the art of photography? How is it possible that his images, no matter how they are cropped, reproduced, rotated or flipped, still manage to keep their core essence? How does one approach the phenomenon Daido Moriyama? We asked 31 photographers and 21 writers to help us find an answer by way of visual and textual statements. We requested appraisal and acclaim, commentary and feedback. Our request was predominantly met with a resoundingly positive response and immediate approval. The resulting anthology »on daido« paints a multifaceted picture of the great renewer of photography. Essentially, it does not so much pay homage to an individual as celebrate the photographic medium as a whole. We are grateful to the photographers and authors for their participation. — Dieter Neubert, Editor —
on daido AN HOMAGE BY PHOTOGRAPHERS & WRITERS
Morten Andersen, Nobuyoshi Araki, Jacob Aue Sobol, Machiel Botman, Krass Clement, Antoine D’Agata, JH Engstroem, Stephen Gill, John Gossage, Todd Hido, Takashi Homma, Osamu Kanemura, Rinko Kawauchi, Keizo Kitajima, Takuma Nakahira, Asako Narahashi, Mika Ninagawa, Katsumi Omori, Koji Onaka, Martin Parr, Anders Petersen, André Principe, Leo Rubinfien, Ken Schles, Joachim Schmidt, Oliver Sieber, Alec Soth, Katja Stuke, Aya Takada, Ali Taptik, Terri Weifenbach
JACOB AUE SOBOL
M. D. THINKS OF SOMETHING ELSE, 2003, BERLIN/PARIS, EDITION OF 3 COPIES
I had just started photography. He said, »No quality without quantity, no quantity without quality.« So I took a lot of photographs. Then, he said, “It’s also necessary to dispose of your photographs.« »You mean, I need to throw away the negatives as well?« I asked. »Well, in some cases, yes,« he answered. Even now, I still can’t throw away my negatives.
SPREAD FROM MORIYAMA, THE WORLD TROUGH MY EYES, SKIRA, 2010
Back in 2000, I heard his name from Anders Petersen during a lecture in Istanbul. I saw some images on the web, and then I found a pocket book with Moriyama’s picture of the net stockings on the cover, really small, in a tiny bookstore in Istanbul. I thought it was a picture of an architectural structure, before realizing what it actually was. »A good photographer should be a good thief,« Petersen used to say — I guess he repeats this quite often. Taking this advice, this 19-year-old kid was stealing from him, from Moriyama, from Halil and from d’Agata. Yet such a theft doesn’t amount to much, because we all take pictures as time flows on, stealing all life from us and giving it to those coming after us. A snake eating its own tail — history is just repetition; recurring nuances are its soul, its character. I thus place what I stole from Moriyama next to the »original«.
TAPTIK, FROM THE SERIES »REMEMBERING ME«, 2002
Dan Abbe, Gerry Badger, Simon Baker, Ute Eskildsen, Jean-Kenta Gauthier, Akira Hasegawa, Steven Kasher, Clément Kauter, Erik Kessels, Shino Kuraishi, Freddy Langer, Russet Lederman, Akio Nagasawa, Sandra S. Phillips, Andrew Roth, André Principe, Leo Rubinfien, Yoko Sawada, Minoru Shimizu, Miwa Susuda, Mariko Takeuchi
Daido Moriyama is a gateway to Japanese photography. He certainly played this role for me, and I imagine the same must be true for more than a few other contributors to this volume. By now, Moriyama’s place in history is assured, and the technique of »are-bure-boke« is part of photographic lore. This was already the case when I moved to Japan in 2009. At that time, though, I wasn’t convinced of Moriyama’s importance as a present-day photographer. In his more recent work, I felt that the use of »are-bure-boke« actually dulled the impact of his images, as if they were buried under a style that had trouble speaking to the present. I wondered whether Moriyama would once again express himself in the bluntly material way that has characterized his most radical work. A small 2012 exhibit, »Color,« answered this question very much in the affirmative. In Japanese, there’s a turn of phrase to indicate astonishment: »the scales fell from my eyes.« I felt this way while looking at the exhibit, though certainly not because the images themselves were clear. On the contrary, they were produced with a consumer-grade digital camera and an inkjet printer, and no attempt was made to hide the sometimes heavy pixelation introduced by these devices. This readymade distortion was classic Moriyama. However, the distortion was also effectively invisible, because anyone could recognize it as the look of a »normal« digital image, and see right through it. This time, Moriyama’s usual subjects — Tokyo junk: back alleys, construction sites, vending machines, photo booths, sewage pipes, billboards and signage of all kinds — struck me so directly that I had to reconsider my view of his recent work in general. Was »Color« actually a revelation, or had I simply not been looking carefully enough before? The exhibit did not create much of a stir at the time, but surely these photographs, too, will one day attract new faces to the rich world of Japanese photography.
If Daido Moriyama had done nothing else in his career except publish Bye Bye Photography, he would still be regarded as one of Japan’s greatest ever photographers and one of the leading post-war photographers anywhere. This book, one of the most radical photographic books ever made, took the medium to the edge of incoherence, to a place from where it needed to be brought back, and this was duly done, not the least by Daido himself. He will be remembered as a maker of photobooks and as a leading exponent of a particular photographic aesthetic. Essentially, he is a maker of photographs that are intended to function as integral parts of photographic sequences. You rarely remember an individual image in a stand-alone sense, except maybe the famous stray dog, but making individual ›masterpiece‹ photographs is not what he is about. Rather, he is one of the supreme masters of combining and throwing photographs together, creating books and sequences that are varied in content and mood, and often slippery and ambiguous in meaning. In this he is one of the most filmic of photographers, his images an endless stream of ›stills‹ from a loop dealing with the pleasures and terrors of our contemporary urban existence. If there is an overarching theme in his work, besides it being the photographic equivalent of action painting, it is, like that of other Japanese photographers of the Provoke era, the pull between modernity and tradition — expressed at one extreme (especially during the Provoke period) as a combination of traditional nationalism and anti-Americanism, and at the other end as the cultural changes wreaked by consumerism and the impact of modern technology and telecommunications. But ultimately, we (and I think he) are brought back to the question of process, the existential act of making photographs, and a concentration upon the ›how‹ rather than the ›why‹ of doing it. This has become increasingly important to so many photographers in this age of the digital ›diaristic mode.‹ Daido is one of the supreme masters of stream-of-consciousness photography, where the camera is used as a direct, unfiltered, spontaneous conduit to the photographer’s subconscious. His photographs are a visual record of seeing, certainly, but also a reflection of his private thoughts and emotions. That might serve almost as a definition of photography, and Daido defines it as well as most.
SIMON BAKER — Hokkaido — Daido Moriyama begins his beautiful, deeply moving essay »A Fossil of Time« with a description, from memory, of ›a single photograph‹ in a small-town museum in Hokkaido: ›An Ainu village, mid-Meji period [ca.1890] anonymous‹.1 His account, however, is not only a careful description of this specific image, its composition, detail, condition and location. It also concerns the effect of Moriyama’s electric encounter with what was a profoundly catalytic object in his personal relationship with the photographic medium, through which ›the light of a distant day‹ came flooding into his eyes.2 What seems stranger still perhaps, about this particular image, is the context of the abundance of material that Moriyama would produce in Hokkaido over many bleak months struggling with melancholy, anxiety and painkillers: 250 rolls of film sequestered for years until they, like the faded ›single photograph‹ in the museum, seemed to have become completely and irredeemably overlooked. It now seems impossible to think of Moriyama’s work without this incredible and singular body of images, published thirty years after they were taken, as Hokkaido, Northern (volumes 1, 2 and 3) and Tsugaru, (and included in his recent Tate Modern show as a stunning slide-projection).3 And in the light of these publications, the description of the single photograph, ›bleached by the sun and weathered like a fossil‹, seems uncannily appropriate for Moriyama’s own long-lost work, with its stains, scratches and imperfections that haunt and transform once-shunned negatives into images of incredible poetry.4 As indeed does the very language of fossilization itself: with the implicit evocation of precious images of the past buried for years and brought carefully into the light. Moriyama’s work from Hokkaido epitomizes the photographer’s own characterization of the potential effect of a photograph, ›a scene from bygone days, completely become a fossil, [which] transmits distant unknown time solely through the [dazzling effect] of light.‹5 Photography, for Moriyama, is a medium bound up in memory and tied inextricably to the ineffable experience of the everyday; scenes, which like fossils, or flies in amber, are frozen out of the flow of daily time and preserved indefinitely for an unknown future. What Moriyama leaves his own future, however, in the pages of his collected publications, is a prehistory of such abundance that its archaeologists could spend lifetimes of looking without ever revisiting a single photograph.
1 D. MORIYAMA, ›A FOSSIL OF TIME‹, IN MEMORIES OF A DOG (TRANS. J. JUNKERMAN, NAZRAELI PRESS: 2004, P133 · 2 IBID. P134 · 3 HOKKAIDO, RATHOLE GALLERY: 2008; NORTHERN, TOSHOSHIMBUN|AKIO NAGASAWA: 2009; NORTHERN 2, TOSHOSHIMBUN|AKIO NAGASAWA: 2010; NORTHERN 3 TOSHOSHIMBUN|AKIO NAGASAWA: 2011; TSUGARU, TAKA ISHII GALLERY: 2010; WILLIAM KLEIN & DAIDO MORIYAMA, TATE MODERN, LONDON: OCTOBER 10 2012- JANUARY 20, 2013. · 4 ›A FOSSIL OF TIME‹ OP. CIT., P137 · 5 IBID. P137
Daido Moriyama might well be the last great black-and-white photographer of the analogue era, which is coming to an end. He is definitely one of the most radical, and his oeuvre continues to captivate us, as is apparent from this publication. In a compelling fashion, he has translated the photographic material, the opportunities of the photographer, into an extreme form of expression through his images of complex daily life. His basic premise, that photography and existence are closely related to each other, can be felt when studying his books. While I am excited about this publication, I have often been disappointed by having to view his photographs as wall displays. Their harsh, fantastic, poetic power â&#x20AC;&#x201D; a mixture of extreme photographic materiality and perspective â&#x20AC;&#x201D; really only unfolds once he places his images into the associative context of books.
In his search for the surfaceness of photography, Moriyama radically proved that transcription, repetition, and mass-production are the essence of this medium. For him, it cannot be realism, self-expression, or documentary. In this sense, he is the Warhol of photography.
JEAN-KENTA GAUTHIER — For a language — »Daido« means »the vast path« or »the large road«; it is a rare expression that comes from a Zen precept asserting that one should not only keep walking in life, but also look for the vast path for enlightenment. Daido Moriyama never really felt close to Zen, but it is quite a fortunate source for someone who spends his life shooting photographs of lights and shadows on the road. Daido Moriyama had a twin brother. His memory constitutes the opening chapter of Moriyama’s memoirs, »Memories of a Dog« (1984): »My brother was named Kazumichi. He departed this world in his second year. My brother and I were twins. […] The character for »one« in my brother’s name was overlaid with the character for »human« [to form my first name], and so I could survive.« »Kazu-« means »one« and is spelled 「一」, »human« is spelled 「人」, so that the visual overlaying of both characters would produce 「大」, the »Dai« in »Daido«. Daido Moriyama considers his birth and his life as the human support of his brother’s aborted existence. It is a profound thought, deeply meaningful, just like his œuvre. As it seems that, because many of Daido Moriyama’s photographs carry a sensation of immediate experience, the profound meaning of his work is often eluded. Like many Japanese photographers from that period, Daido Moriyama could not afford to travel to the West for a long time. His education in photography was made through photobooks that he analyzed, scrutinized, and meditated on. Thanks to this study, Daido Moriyama acquired a deep understanding of the meaning of street photography. Since then, he has been incessantly repeating that photographing in public space is a matter of relations, of interactions between the artist and his surroundings, of articulations between his own desires and the ones that lie within each one around him. Photography allows him to measure the link between him and others. He then offers two definitions. First, »a photograph is a record,« an idea proclaimed by the title of his personal magazine, »Record,« started in 1972-1973 and resumed in 2006 thanks to the valuable involvement of Akio Nagasawa. Second, »a photograph is a fossil of time and light.« The work of Daido Moriyama is one of introspection, manifesting in the present the role of photography with regards to memory. Or to put it briefly — he has been asserting the importance of the present for fifty years. Again in »Memories of a Dog«, he wrote: »I think of memory not as the reproduction of images that rise up nostalgically from within oneself, but rather as the territory of the soul that faces and is deeply engaged with the vast time that stretches into the distant before and after, with the present as the divide.« This is a reflection close to the conceptions of Marcel Proust or the philosopher Henri Bergson, demonstrating Moriyama’s obsession with the quest for past images re-actualized by the confrontation with the present. This is one of the main motivations that led Daido Moriyama to photograph the course of his existence for five decades. For many years, Moriyama has been shooting the reproduction hanging above his bed of Nicéphore Niépce’s »Point de vue du Gras«, the first photograph in history made in 1827, as the first frame in each new roll of film or, more recently, on each blank digital card. More than a mere salutation, this obsessive act demonstrates his profound interest in the origin of his practice, and his constant will to bring past into present. This quest for the present is at stake in each of his books, even
numerous revised versions of his own books published over the years. Each new version is sequenced in a different way, and images are replaced, or added, or withdrawn. When Daido Moriyama is asked if these revised editions are new, he says no, asserting that they are still the same as their original version. Yet what is at stake is his own understanding of his past works in the present. Looking back is a means of emphasizing the present time. In 1974, John Szarkowski organized the first show of contemporary Japanese photography held in a Western museum at the New York MoMA. In the exhibition catalogue he wrote: »The quality most central to recent Japanese photography is its concern for the description of immediate experience: most of these pictures impress us not as a comment on experience, or as a reconstruction of it into something more stable and lasting, but as an apparent surrogate for experience itself, put down with a surely intentional lack of reflection. In the visual arts, it would be difficult to name an artist who more closely approaches the ideals of automatic writing than Daidoh Moriyama.« Daido Moriyama would not be able to express the reasons that lead him to make each of his photographs. Or his explanations would be, as he points out, often very trivial. Furthermore, he never really understood Henri Cartier-Bresson’s idea of the »decisive moment.« Moments are everywhere; they could be in front of you or at the corner of the street, so that a good photographer, he says, is the one who is curious enough to grab these moments. A good photograph lies in a sequence of images that are to be assembled according to their forms or their meanings. One can easily understand what led John Szarkowski to associate Daido Moriyama’s approach to photography with the ideals of automatic writing — in short, the weakening of the rational mind. Szarkowski’s comparison would nevertheless lead to reducing Moriyama’s practice to a violent urge to accumulate images. Carrying the principle of automatic creation into street photography is a consolation prize. Celebrating Daido Moriyama should be the ideal occasion to finally breathe meaning into street photography, a private practice open to public space.
AKIRA HASEGAWA — The way Daido Moriyama lived — What surprises me when I think about Daido Moriyama is the rigidity of his belief -- he evinces a certain stubbornness. His photographs used to be called »bure boke.« They cannot be considered photo-journalism or documentary photography; they are not marked by a clear aim, but are rather blurred (bure) and out-offocus (boke). It was not even sure why he had to take these photographs. They deviated far enough from the conventional aesthetic of photography to be considered heterodoxy; yet they gained the empathy of some of the young photographers. It is interesting to discover that Moriyama was apprenticed to the photographers Yôichi Midorikawa and Eikoh Hosoe, when he began his career. As mainstream photographers, Midorikawa is well known for his splendid landscape pictures; Hosoe for his portraits of the Japanese writer Yukio Mishima, among others. If Moriyama ultimately went a different way from his masters, he was led by his own self-confidence and aesthetic. Once he had established his own photographic methodology, Moriyama simply went his own way. Though his everyday life may have been a struggle, he never took a commercial picture. The most famous photographer in Japan is probably Kishin Shinoyama, who is good at taking pictures of celebrities. Moriyama negates even Shinoyama with these words: »I take no notice of him.« I am not alone in sensing his stubbornness on this point. Now I hope to shed a bit of light on Moriyama’s publication Tono monogatari [Tales of Tono], which I edited when I was working at Asahi Sonorama. It cannot be called a photobook, since it first appeared as a paperback edition and was as noteworthy for its text as for its pictures. Furthermore, its title is well-recognized, as the folklorist Kunio Yanagita had already used this title for his renowned book. For a German audience, I’d like to explain this original book. The term folkloristics derives from the German word Volkskunde. It differs from ethnology. As a colonial empire, England had an early chance to encounter different world cultures. Ethnology there developed through asking the question, »who are they«. Compared to England, Germany and Japan’s development was delayed — they were too busy unifying their own countries. Thus their study of folkloristics was formed by the question, »who are we?« Both questions, methodologically similar, came to categorize cultural anthropology. Briefly speaking, Yanagita’s main task was to explore and identify Japan as an island of diverse cultures. Tono is a deserted village in the Iwate prefecture. His book about folk legends in Tono is focused particularly on their everyday lives. In previous Japanese history books, generally only heroic sagas were written up. Hence Yanagita’s book easily gained people’s sympathy. Moriyama agreed with Yanagita’s point of view. He took pictures of things in everyday life; for example, of old houses and ordinary landscapes. For this book project, he seemed more concerned with expressing his aesthetic of photography in his essays. Moriyama made the following comment: »As I said at the beginning, Tono is a symbolic home town for me. I also mentioned my home town as the original landscape depicted with fragments of my earliest memories. It is, namely, a jigsaw puzzle. I used to argue that photography might be memory rather than documentary.«1 In my opinion, these words summarize his aesthetic of photography. His activities after this book can also be viewed as collecting memories. To my mind, we are all lonely. This is perhaps why this lonely photographer’s isolated images can gain worldwide sympathy today. 1. »RETURNING TO THE BEGINNING OF MY STORY, I SAID THAT TONO, TO ME, HAD A SYMBOLIC HOME-TOWN MEANING. I ALSO TALKED ABOUT MY HOME TOWN AS AN ›ORIGINAL LANDSCAPE‹ CREATED THROUGH THE CONNECTION OF FRAGMENTS OF DISTANT MEMORY. IN OTHER WORDS, IT’S A JIGSAW PUZZLE. IN THE PAST, I HAVE SAID THAT PHOTOGRAPHY IS MORE MEMORY THAT DOCUMENTARY.« IN: MORIYAMA, TALES OF TONO, TATE PUBLISHING 2012, P.176.
I have realized that there are three transcendentally great photographers alive today. Photographers who have opened a vista onto a world that we could otherwise not explore. Photographers who show us a world as rich as life, a world filled with love and death, tragedy and comedy, memory and loss. Photographers who create a world as satisfyingly rich as those created by Tolstoy or Dickens. I recently told Robert Frank this theory. He asked me who they were. I said: »Eggleston, Moriyama, and Frank.« He paused a half beat and responded: »In that order?«
Even though they are pictures that have been cut up into parts, Moriyama Daido’s best photographs always make you think they are complete, total. Though mere fragments, they are total. That they are lacking nothing is a profound kind of magic.
Whether on matted, coated or glossy paper, in heliogravure, offset or photocopy printing, in a magazine or in a review, inside an attractive binding or on the wall, Daido Moriyama’s photography carries out its very own aesthetics. Whatever the chosen tool or medium, whatever the rendering, his oeuvre carries such a peculiar and recognizable style that it always stands the test of time, inscribing itself within a novel photographic narrative. Each of his volumes is an opportunity to rediscover his work with a fresh eye, leaving us with the feeling that we are contemplating the images for the first time. As in a great testing laboratory, this permanent search for a visual rendering allows us to consider photography as images that must be shared and distributed rather than kept secretly for oneself. From close-ups to snap-shots, from portraiture to landscape, his dexterity and skill allow him to be the witness of a world in which he does not appear. Indeed, he steps aside, yet leads us to behold the reality of a moment, with no trick or decoy, recording the present time in the tumult of his negatives. Like a personal and intimate diary, his photographs are recorded each day. This image hunt is vital for him — a moment of vibrancy and exaltation, a ritual that nurtures him and makes him feel alive. Many of his disciples and fans are so deeply immersed in his narrative and aesthetics that they may find it rather difficult to determine their own universe and ultimately make a name for themselves. However, he has the capacity to instill freedom in photography, engaging us to free ourselves from the camera, or from the so-called »perfect« photograph; by contrast, often pressing the shutter enables further practice and helps sharpen one’s eye. More clicks mean more possibilities to capture a reality. Few artists can pretend to leave such a powerful imprint in their chosen field. So we may very well be hearing increasingly the term »Moriyama-like« around galleries or bookshops, to evoke the force of the contrasting quality in a photograph.
ERIK KESSEL — Fan Failures — Needless to say, Daido Moriyama is one of the few photographers whose intuitive way of working and natural sense for composition I really admire. But almost all possible compliments about this compact, compulsive Japanese photographer have already been given, over and over again. So instead of repeating them again, maybe it’s better to tell a story about my experience of being a Moriyama fan. For many years I’ve been obsessing over his books. I spent a whole trip to Japan hunting down his older books, and my friends never go to Japan without instructions to track down a hard-to-find Moriyama book. On the rare occasions he visited Amsterdam, I brought an embarrassingly large shopping bag full of books for him to sign. Sometimes I’ve even talked with him at these signings, though it’s always been short and polite and through an ever-present translator. And then it suddenly happened: Reflex gallery in Amsterdam did a book with him, to go along with an exhibition. They asked me to write an intro. I couldn’t tell you how happy I was. I walked around with a big smile for days. When the book came out, I went to the gallery for the opening. Again the same sight. Daido sitting there, focused on signing a big pile of books, by his side a translator. This time I was introduced informally to him and he nodded his head and stayed focused on signing. No deep and amazing conversation about photography. In summer 2013, at the Rencontres d’Arles, there was Daido again. And once more, the bookseller’s table, the same big pile of books being signed with great focus and a silver marker. This time there were three people surrounding him, translator, gallerist from Tokyo, publisher. When Moriyama went outside to smoke a cigarette, it was my chance to talk to him. I was determined to get just a few lines out of him about his work, or even a deep conversation about photography. I walked up to him and tried to remind him that we met briefly in Amsterdam. His translator and publisher asked what I wanted from Moriyama, because he was very busy. As I was trying to explain, the whole group walked off back to the signing. I stood there nailed to the ground. Maybe I should give up trying to have a conversation with him. Maybe it’s an illusion. It’s better to keep it like a dream and concentrate instead on his photography again. Because this is his passion, more than anything else.
MIWA SUSUDA — May 30, 2013 | Dear Mr. Moriyama: — Apologies for my sudden contact through this letter. I am sure that you don’t know me, but I know you very well through your numerous publications issued over the past forty years. My name is Miwa Susuda, and I have been working for David Strettell at Dashwood Books, an independent NY photobook store, for the last eight years. As an ardent admirer of your work, David has introduced me to a treasure trove of many Japanese works, including your widely celebrated books Bye, Bye, Photography, Nippon Gekijo Shashincho, and Kagero. I am writing this letter to express the joy it has given me to be able to introduce your wonderful work to all book collectors at Dashwood Books. It is your books in particular that have given me confidence as a photobook consultant and provided me with a great relationship with many book collectors from Europe and the United States. Perhaps you don’t know that you have various types of fans. Their occupations include graphic designer, painter, editor, stylist, writer, financial officer, doctor, curator, fashion designer, and of course photographer. Some seek out your books for the sheer pleasure of collecting; others want your work as a reference/ inspiration for their fashion shoots or editorial work. Whatever motivation they have, they all share their excitement about discovering your work through their recent visits to your exhibitions | lectures | workshops at museums and many other cultural institutions. Because of your hard work and active involvement with these events, I can talk about you with our clients for hours. I assume that it is not easy to get inspired and work as a photographer at your age, yet nobody else is as active as you. Your contribution to the photo community is tremendous, but I personally feel most thankful for your vitality and strength. You don’t know how proud I am about my background, whenever I see your original prints at the MoMA next to Western masters’ work. I truly hope that I can meet with you one day and tell you about your fans’ enthusiasm in great detail. If you ever have a chance to browse in downtown New York City, please feel free to stop by Dashwood Books. It will be our pleasure to show you our fantastic collections from all over the world, and it might be interesting to show you how your work has influenced other photographers above and beyond their nationalities and times. It is just remarkable. Sincerely, Miwa Susuda Dashwood Books
FREDDY LANGER — All my animals — It is not known in which city Daido Moriyama saw the leopard standing erect on its hind legs, fully stretched out, using its tail as a support, its front paws resting on the ledge of a shop window, with its gaze focused on a display of expensive wristwatches and a precious necklace. Or did the animal rather glance towards the photographer, something that seems more likely on closer inspection? On one side the jewelry, on the other the man. Something is quite certain: This is a predator on the prowl. No wonder Moriyama took the shot. This setting was certainly to his taste — and who knows if he would have ever called himself a stray dog, had he crossed paths with this noble wild cat any earlier. The posture and appearance of the spotted leopard are as provocative as the mangy dog from Misawa in Daido Moriyama’s image ›Stray Dog‹, dated 1971, which he loves to call his self-portrait. But it is more composed. Dignified. Majestic. This shot could be interpreted as his late work. As Moriyama’s depiction of maturity. But Moriyama actually never experienced this scene with the leopard in the street. It was taken from an advertising shot, designed by Jean Larivière for the jeweler Cartier in 1999 and published in number 14 of the magazine Égoïste. Moriyama basically just photographed the image from the magazine. Which is something he has done before. And something he is quite open about. Some were coarse-grained catastrophe images from the daily papers, others Brigitte Bardot on a motorbike or the full lips of beautiful women on street posters. The world is a fragment, photography is copy, says Moriyama. If the perfect image is already in existence, why bother to recreate, plan, re-stage it? Moriyama is a hunter, and when he finds his prey, he shoots. And executes the motif. Jean Larivière didn’t like this. Nor did Cartier. Nor Égoïste. He was not permitted to use the image again; this was the ruling, so one heard. Which also explains why the image has appeared in so few of his books, even if it can be seen as a quasi representation of his territory at the intersection of erotica and danger zone. In one of his works it is positioned opposite an image of a young woman, who, dressed only in a brightly white undergarment, flees as if in panic between corrugated iron walls into the darkness. But this is also an animal photo. And once this term has been used, one realizes how many animal photos Daido Moriyama has taken. Starting with the pig and the rooster from Tales of Tono the list goes on to fly and cockroach, then toad and rat, horse and elephant up to the many dogs and cats which either stare at the photographer in an aggressive manner or huddle together tired and hurt on the streets. That is the book that is still missing amongst the hundred or more Moriyama photobooks, the book that I wish for: ›All my animals‹. An excursion into the world of the oppressed creature — complemented by images of tubes that look like trunks, and bombs reminiscent of seals. Even these motifs are perfectly suited to Moriyama’s impression of the opacity of the world and of the chaos of life, for which he has found such an authoritative metaphor with his unfocussed, wobbly and wrongly exposed photos that one has to wince in fright even when viewing the advertising photo of a luxurious jeweler. I have a print of the leopard picture hanging next to my front door. And every time I leave the house, I am reminded that I can never be certain what awaits me outside.
RUSSET LEDERMAN — The Outsider — As the elevator doors opened and Daido Moriyama emerged into the lobby of New York’s Japan Society, the crowd surged forward to engulf him. ›Handlers‹ created a passage through the mob and sat the photographer at a table for book-signing requests. It was complete chaos, with admirers pushing books towards him, while others stood on tiptoes to get a closer look. I tried to snap a photo with my cell phone, but all I got was a strange blurred image of the photographer cropped by the back of someone else’s shoulder. The scene was a quintessential ‘Daido the rock star’ moment. This event stood in sharp contrast to a few months later, when I was introduced to Moriyama for the first time in person at the International Center of Photography Library. A handful of patrons and curators were gathered to honor Moriyama and the donation to the library of a comprehensive collection of his photobooks. Seated at a round table surrounded by an impressive display of his books was a gracious and somewhat reserved photographer. Introductions were made and group photos were taken. All was very tame, as we sipped prosecco, jazz played in the background and Moriyama signed his books. The only hint of the rebel was the black graphic T-shirt poking out from his tailored jacket. Not surprisingly, Moriyama is a photographer of strong contrasts. During more than 45 years of photobook-making, he has produced some of the most important and radical collections of images. Similar to the polite photographer whom I met at the ICP Library, his photobooks often take the viewer by surprise — a riotous explosion of images emerging from between quiet and unassuming covers. The highly charged visual language of his photobooks embraces both the ordinary and theatrical with the same disregard for prevailing photographic conventions. Whether it is the out-of-focus, grainy black-and-white images screaming across the pages of Provoke magazine (1968–69) or the color neighborhood snapshots of his nightly Shinjuku wanderings, Moriyama remains a bit of an outsider — a stray dog — seeking admittance into the club where he is already the gang leader who sets the course for everyone else. These contradictions have continually shaped Moriyama’s photographic approach. Whether it is his groundbreaking first book, Japan: A Photo Theater (1968), that interleaves blurry images of urban postwar Japan with portraits of actors from Shuji Terayama’s experimental Tenjo Sajiki theater, or the almost illegible photos of Farewell Photography (1971), Moriyama is at his best when he rides a fine line between a crass visual overload as it intersects with traditional Japan. It is these jarring transitions, contradictions and the collision of the ordinary with the unexpected that inform his work. Along the way, there are moments of introspection, as evinced in his more spiritual images of the northern Japanese countryside in Tales of Tono (1976). In response to the alienating urban images of his earlier books, these photos reveal a desire to reconnect with nature and an essential Japanese spirit. Yet, within the diversity of his photobooks is a unifying quest to unearth authentic experience and embrace its contractions. It is a pursuit best achieved by an outsider, who has attained rock-star status while still remaining a gracious and discreet observer.
I have this feeling that nobody knows more about photography than Daido Moriyama. There may be a few that know as much as Daido, but no more than a handful. It was 2002 when I first saw a Moriyama photograph, and I was living in New York City. I had just moved from Lisboa and was going to the Met regularly to see Caravaggio, Hokusai, Corot, Bonnard and other things I had read about. One day I asked a friend if he wanted to come with me. The Met? I never look at anything older than three months, he said and laughed. We needed a compromise. We looked at the list of shows that were on and ended up going to Moriyama’s exhibition called NY-71, I think it was on 70th street. I had never heard about Daido Moriyama before. We walked for hours, as we often did before we entered the small space. The prints were small and there were lots of books displayed. It was not spectacular. Looking back, I don’t remember a single photo from the show. I remember the feeling of it, the feeling of browsing through the book. The photos were neither good nor bad, they were about … what? It was something else, what was it about? That day, walking home to 110th street, I had a lot on my mind; past, present, future, and the feeling that this man can photograph anything. I hid the Leica when I got to the block before mine, as I did every day. The Puerto Rican kids were on the corner and laughed when they saw me: »Where is your Leica, football guy?« They knew! They even knew what a Leica is! Everybody knew everything, except me. Past, present, future, all the things in the world, and we’re in it, too. Since then I’ve looked at many photographs, but mostly books by Daido. He can photograph anything, anytime. Photographers know what I mean by this. Here was somebody that could make a great book from going out to buy cigarettes. It changed my understanding of photography. Photography was now much bigger than I thought; in fact, it was about everything. Later I met Daido. I did a film about photography and went to see him. I walked in Shinjuku and Golden Gai with him, taking photos. I had a chance to show him some of my books. He looked very carefully at them, in a very tender, generous way. I was touched. He was looking at the photos, and stopped at the one that now features in this book. I like this photograph, he said. It was one of my favorites too. That is just a flash in the dark, I said, I heard a noise and just flashed darkness, it’s in the Gobi desert. I like this photograph because it is about nothing, he said and smiled. Everything and nothing, what more can one possibly want? Arigato gozaimasu Sensei.
AKIO NAGASAWA — About Daido Moriyama’s personal photo journal »Kiroku（Record« — Every day, Daido Moriyama wanders out into the streets to take snapshots. This is what characterizes the style he has consistently adopted for 50 years. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that taking photographs is his goal when he takes to the streets. I would venture to say that Moriyama’s aim is rather a sort of self-exploration by roaming the streets and taking snaps. Moriyama claims that no such thing as the ordinary everyday exists in this world. Our life takes place in the ominous setting of a ceaseless chain of extraordinary oddities, and each moment of it drives Moriyama out into the streets. He is there again at this very moment, wandering about in the thrilling time-space of daily life, and releasing the shutter whenever he encounters something that sets sparks flying between the outside world and the inner world of his memory|experience|sensation. (Moriyama himself calls such situations »fissures in which the inner and outer worlds cross.«) Through his street snaps, Moriyama attempts to capture the world at large by replicating various fragments of the big picture. Furthermore, he uses each photograph that represents one of those fragments as a medium for relativizing the distance between himself and the outside world, and thereby questioning himself, »Where do I come from?« »Where am I going?« »And who am I?« The act of walking in the streets and replicating the world is for Moriyama an act of contemplating his life and the world he lives in, so in the end, he regards taking photographs as synonymous with living. For him, these two have become an indivisible, even indistinct combination. Daido Moriyama is apparently roaming the streets in search of hidden clues for understanding a world that seems to be somewhere else, but not here. As a matter of fact, he knows very well that he will never find them, no matter how hard he tries. The world is just the same wherever he goes, and Moriyama knows for sure that the place where he hopes to find what he is looking for is just where he is standing right now — right there underneath his feet. That is why he suspects that he can find the hidden clues right here and now as he continues to walk around. Moriyama’s photo shooting locations are always the places where he stands at the respective point in time. In 1972, Moriyama published the book Farewell Photography that marked his arrival at one polar point of photography, so to speak. The photos collected in this book have been described as »rough«, »jittery« and »blurry«, which in a way summarizes what is often referred to as Daido Moriyama’s own original style. For Moriyama, however, it is not at all a matter of technique or design. These works function as commitments to his unique perspective on the world. Simply representing the world as perceived by Daido Moriyama, each of these photos was an alibi of sorts that helped Moriyama realize that he was alive. The trajectory of Moriyama’s struggling walks and his own perspective on the world have opened new horizons in photographic expression, however this was a result of Moriyama’s exploration of the compelling reality of his own life, rather than of his pursuit of a new style of photography. Following the self-reflection and self-contemplation Moriyama undertook through the publication of Farewell Photography, the next step he chose (in 1972) was the extremely private act of publishing the personal photo journal Kiroku at his own expense. The concept behind this publication was, very simply, to shoot and publish photographs in the mood
of the moment. Perfectly artlessly, it was just about the acts of walking, shooting and publishing. Somewhat like an immediate expression of Moriyama’s life itself, this was probably born of the awareness that the cycle of walking in the street, shooting, walking and shooting, was the very cycle of Daido Moriyama’s life; the awareness that the meaning of taking photos is equivalent to that of being alive, and that this was in fact the only action through which he could feel his existence. Nonetheless, this action unfortunately came to an end when Kiroku was discontinued, for various reasons, after the publication of volume 5 in 1973. Moriyama later explained that he had been trying to identify himself too much with his photographs, and taking these things too seriously, which ultimately widened the gap between himself and photography, as a result of which he had lost his sense of self. Convinced that Kiroku was the best medium to personify a photographer who continues to roam the streets looking for clues that help him understand the world, I suggested reviving it back in 2006. As Moriyama himself apparently had it in mind to revive the journal, as the very foundation of his work, ever since its discontinuation in 1973, he agreed right away. As of 2013, a total of 24 volumes of the new Kiroku have been published. In some small way, with every single issue this action — evidencing one man’s modest life — will probably continue, right up to the day Moriyama stops walking. Daido Moriyama is again wandering the streets today. The path he takes is going to turn into the path of Moriyama’s photography.
Printed on the first page of ’71-NY, published in 2002 by PPP Editions, is a letter written to me and signed by Daido. He thanks me for »the chance to live with these images again« — to revisit photographs he had made more than thirty years earlier. So in turn, I thank you, Daido, for trusting me to sequence the images we selected, to add the various textual components, to package it as I wished — for allowing me to partake in the lineage of classic Japanese photographic books. You turned the project over to me and awaited the outcome, a rare occurrence for any publisher. Perhaps so much time had passed since the images were taken that you felt enough distance to leave them to someone else’s interpretation, though as you stated, »It was thirty years ago that I made these pictures; to look at it another way, it is merely the raw material for a book I am making now. These are contact sheets from now — in this room, right now. This is the starting point: there are two of us in the room right now talking about making a book, and the sun is shining on the contact sheets.« Or maybe it was just an intuitive trust between bookmakers. In fact, it was a daunting task to edit down those four hundred images and to reconstruct your month-long stay in New York City — your first trip abroad — a place enmeshed in myth that you had already experienced internally through the images and words of others: James Baldwin, William Klein, Andy Warhol. But more importantly — and perhaps this is something only photographs can afford us, those taken by ourselves and by others — sorting through your images I became a first-time visitor to my own city. It was me wandering the streets at night; it was me lying in my hotel watching TV; it was me sifting through a trunk of Weegee photographs at MoMA; and it was me drifting from tourist attraction to empty side-street, under the spell of the enormity that is New York, camera in hand. You pointed the way.
I’m sure that I first saw Moriyama’s pictures before I’d heard his name or knew anything much about photography. I was a twelfth-grade student in Tokyo then, it was at the apex of the 1960s and the streets were full of exhilaration and fury, and two of the boys I knew — both good photographers — would bring their prints and their books (Cartier-Bresson; Kertesz; Brassai) to school each week and we few who were interested would inspect them avidly. They also brought the wonderful Japanese picture magazines of those days, Camera Mainichi, Asahi Camera, etc., which were full of dark, rough images that sometimes looked like blots or smears or flares of light. To be honest, I couldn’t have known which of the pictures were Moriyama’s and which were Tomatsu’s, Nakahira’s, Takanashi’s, Araki’s or Fukase’s, since all these men used film in the gestural way we’d been taught when we were small to ink heavy Chinese characters onto thirsty white paper. Moriyama’s had to have been among them, though, and I know that I was taken by them powerfully. The pictures were pictures of things of course, but more than that they felt like a crying out of the streets and the crowds and the bleak winter days and the flashing signs and the hurtling trains and the endless hammering and grinding and pile driving that together made up the erupting city in which we lived, which excited us like a first taste of freedom. It often seems that there was more expression in those pictures than description, yet in no way did this make them mannered or false — it made them still more true. They were a cry, a howl, like a strand of sound pulled endlessly out of an electric guitar, the crazy laughter of the drunks at the end of the street or the cackle of the old crone or the horrible wail of the defeated thief, in the movies, when he was finally dragged off by the police. It was perhaps a year later that I myself began to photograph, and I think it was at least partly from Moriyama that I understood that a photograph can be not just a window upon the world through which one passes, but a voice in which one can speak of it, and of what one feels as one makes one’s journey. If I had not understood this at the start, I think I would have had no reason for starting. I followed Moriyama’s work on and off through the years after that, but pretty deliberately after 1983 or so. Methodically, almost, he seemed to be covering more and more of Japan, and more and more of life. Loneliness was there, violence, speed, hunger, the beauty of the female body and the beauty of sex, the ugliness of the female body and the squalor of sex, the lurid promise, the locomotive roaring through the snow, the sun too weak, the sun too blindingly bright, the idiot boy, the sea, the palms and waving grasses that are both glorious and no consolation at all, the freighter set forth on the inauspicious voyage, the singer tormented by his song, the innumerable boulevards and alleys and rickety houses, the worn tatami and the reeking benjo and even the parings from some girl’s fingernails … it was a stream that became a river, and then a flood. He has grown bigger and bigger.
SANDRA S. PHILLIPS — Remembering a Birthday in Japan — I first met the wonderful and sympathetic photographer, Daido Moriyama, when we planned to do a show of his work in San Francisco. That exhibition took place at my museum (SFMOMA) in 1999 — it was a beautiful show and, I think, a revelation to many visitors who had never seen his work and had not known that photography in Japan was the important cultural achievement it so clearly is. But I digress from my real story. When he came to San Francisco to celebrate the opening, I discovered that this wonderful, rather shy man had a special affinity for carrot cake — of all things! One day I found him in the museum’s restaurant feasting on a rather generous portion, and he confessed his predilection spontaneously. When he came to my house for dinner I prepared a carrot cake for dessert, and if my memory serves me well, I think he somehow managed to take the leftover cake with him to Japan. The next year I was given a sabbatical leave by the museum and spent six months in Rome working at the American Academy, but I was also granted a Japan Foundation Fellowship to study in Tokyo, to continue my initial studies on Japan’s remarkable photography culture, which I had come to know through Moriyama. One day there, I was visiting my friend Koko Yamagishi, who had been my initial guide, helper, translator and much else with the Moriyama show. She asked me if I wanted to join her and visit Moriyama on his birthday — I think it was the next day. I immediately thought — how cool it would be to bring him a birthday cake, which would have to be a carrot cake, of course! So we went to many of those expensive large department stores which Tokyo has in such quantity, on the trail of exceedingly specialized ingredients that were very rare in Japan — cream of tartar (which proved the hardest to find), white pastry flour, powdered sugar, and other ingredients with which to make this highly specialized gift. I spent an afternoon in the tiniest kitchen imaginable, beating eggs with chopsticks, trying to convert oven temperature from Fahrenheit to centigrade and otherwise managing to produce this distinctively non-Japanese delicacy. We even managed to find birthday candles (but knowing the Japanese, that was really the easiest part). I think Daido was genuinely surprised and even, I believe, found the production tasty. For my part, I will never forget the whole experience, especially seeing him so obviously pleased with our birthday gift to him.
I once had the following dream. A new photobook by Daido Moriyama is lying open on a table. Turning the pages of this thick and heavy book, the erotic, tactile sense of the photographs tempts me to involuntarily run my finger across their surfaces. No matter how affectionately I touch the printed images, they are obviously mere surfaces with the texture of a piece of paper. However, while repeatedly touching them, I notice that my finger has gone inside the printed image, which should only be two-dimensional. I can touch a scarred tire, a grid of ceramic titles or the facade of streets in Paris, at the same time. The act of touching the photographed subjects in an image cannot be distinguished from the act of touching the photograph, fusing with the sensations in my finger. The contours that had formed the order of things dissolve, and the various subjects captured in each photograph become entangled within a world lacking any sense of distance. Losing track of time, the sensation in my finger spreads throughout my whole body. I become hot, and my mind is in a daze. I fix my eyes on a woman who is putting up her umbrella on the street on a rainy night. I see her beautiful legs extend from under her mini-skirt, which is vividly colored in a flower pattern. Her face can’t be seen because of her umbrella. I feel like she is murmuring something. When I wake from my dream, I try to imagine what she said. When we look at Daido Moiryama’s photographs, we may discover lessons for us on how to regain our tactile desire in an urban space that has lost its »face« and texture.
MINORU SHIMIZU — Neither decolorized nor faded. Notes on the latest color photographs by Daido Moriyama — Since Daido Moriyama: The Complete Works in 2003, there has been a succession of retrospective exhibitions and re-publications of past collections. Such confrontations with the past naturally cast a shadow over Moriyama’s new work. A certain direction became apparent in the photographs that appeared in recent years, with Hawaii (2007) becoming the most focused expression of this. Any discussion of »memory« is inevitably accompanied by a discussion of personal reminiscences. However, Moriyama has no personal memories whatsoever of Hawaii. Having no memories of Hawaii, he was able to take photographs of memories, because the photographs themselves remembered previous photographs. »Memory« is not found in nostalgia, but involves a single photograph serving as an outlet for multiple groups of photographs. This direction was further verified with the publication or re-publication of photographs from his 70s and 80s that had led to the hysteric trilogy (1993, 94, and 97). In other words, Moriyama is currently seeking to retrace a past anew that is different from hysteric, and color is an important means of achieving this. The first clue to understanding Moriyama’s latest color photographs can be found in the dislocation he went through in the 1980s: from a photographer who responds to the light emitted by the subject and abandons himself to the resultant »light and shadow« to a sobered photographer who captures sober everyday life as it is. The second clue is that in the past Moriyama’s colors were so-called »faded colors,« ravaged and faded from being exposed to light. Or to put it another way, his colors were gradations of exposure (sensitivity to light), which is to say they were a subtle gray scale, and in this sense his black-and-white and color photographs were the same. His new colors are a breakaway from these »faded colors.« The third clue can be found in Record no. 18 and Record no. 19 (2011). Among the main distinguishing features appearing in these works are a dynamic contrast, compositions in which the picture plane is divided boldly, and collage-like compositions using posters, mirrors, and so on. Moriyama’s new color photographs share some of these features. Looking further at Color Photograph (2011), Record No. 21 and Color (2012), it should be clear that Moriyama’s color photography is transitioning from light-sensitive color as aesthetic and erotic gray scale to matter-of-fact dry color in which the contrast has been raised to an almost abnormal level so that the colors are saturated, producing an effect like the dark shadows of high summer. There are exceptions that hark back to the old »faded colors,« but most of the new color works are marked by an all too refreshing literalness, i.e., absence of sentimentality. It is none other than the collage-like picture planes and photographic memories that constitute the very elements supporting this literalness. They serve as the motive power guiding each photograph not downwards in the direction of a single, deep meaning, but sideways to the next photograph, the next fragment. Retracing the past anew, Moriyama has found the farewell to »light and shadow«-sensitivity once accomplished by the hysteric works to be half-hearted. This is because the picture planes rhythmically collaged in high contrast using miscellaneous urban motifs ended up being contained within the straight photography category of »chiaroscuro« (i.e., light and shadow) art photography, in which the centrifugal force essential to collage was diminished by the centripetal force that
accompanied black-and-white photography. Which is why there is a need to pursue the exact opposite of Paul Strand’s notion that »there is nothing in common between color and photography.« And so, there is no difference in subject and style between Moriyama’s color and his black-and-white photography. Color, however, is imbued with the ability to prevent a photograph turning into an artwork, so that it remains just a photograph. Accordingly, the object of Daido’s color photography is not color itself. Rather, it is a secularizer designed to counteract the centripetal force of black and white. Due to the use of color, the centrifugal force of collage retains a secular noisiness without being absorbed comfortably in the black-and-white picture. In this way, Daido Moriyama’s color photography resists becoming a series of complete single photographs, and instead exposes to view our sober, versicolored everyday lives in which multiple memories noisily echo and reecho. »Farewell, modernist photography« (Farewell Photography, 1972), «Farewell, light and shadow« (Lettre à St. Loup, 1990) and »Farewell, hysteric« (Color, 2012). historically
Daido Moriyama has finally arrived in a world of photographic multiplicity, where memory and collage are like the two wheels of a cart, a world he has sought for many years during which he has bid farewell to the landing place of each in succession. How full of rich colorfulness is our seemingly mundane everyday life.
Edited by Dieter Neubert Published by the Kasseler Fotografie Festival gUG, Kassel, Germany Design by Steffen Kalauch Proof reading by Pauline Cumbers This is a special limited edition of 300 copies ÂŠ 2013 by the artists, the authors and the Kasseler Fotografie Festival gUG www.fotobookfestival.org