I want to dedicate the following review to my dearest friend Christophe Crison, whom I never got to meet in person, and now regretfully that opportunity is forever gone. I only knew him through emails, but he consistently gave me warm encouragements for my publishing, writing and working at Dashwood Books. Because of him, I know the power of the word: his impacted me not only instantly but sustainably. Because of him, I believe words can be used not only for the sake of one individual’s well being but for the pure intention of making others feel strong and happy, especially when they really need it. He certainly brightened my mind and even now nourishes my determination in life. Christophe was one who was fascinated with power of pictures, especially Japanese photography.
For the JP_EN2 publication, I had a wonderful opportunity to go through a number of young photographers’ portfolios and to nominate and review three talented photographers’ work. I hope that through my words, you will find their work interesting and I can encourage more upcoming Japanese photographers to expose their works to wider audiences, goals that I shared with Christophe.
What makes Nishikiori’s pictures outstanding is the way he works outside the conceptual tropes and technical manipulation prevalent in current photographic practice. His work is purely, strikingly photographic, and he possesses a remarkable ability to capture the essence of his subject, no matter the settings or circumstance. The pictures here were not taken for a specific project during a concentrated period of time, yet they possess a remarkably strong coherence. They are also delightfully expressive and bold, especially when contrasted with the more typically quiet, meditative qualities of other contemporary Japanese work.
More so than its Western counterparts, Japanese photography draws much of its power from the shadowed beauty of vulnerability, uncertainty and imperfection. As Jun’ichiro Tanizaki observed in “In’ei Raisan,” his seminal essay on Japanese aesthetics, “If light is scarce then light is scarce. We will immerse ourselves in the darkness and there discover its own particular beauty.” Kanno’s work in “Loser” is delivered from such a vision, elegantly mining the beauty that lives in the shadows, frailties, and imperfections of our modern surroundings. It is his best work to date.
Pinhole camera photographs often (and unfortunately) feel old-fashioned and simple, and invoke a sense of nostalgia and romance that is too easily earned. Mr. Higuchi’s pinhole work, however, breaks with this convention. His images eschew the nostalgic for something more keenly contemporary. At a glance the images appear simple, but closer inspection reveals layers of complexity and sophistication, rendered by an artist of tremendous intelligence and a firm sense of control.
JP_EN2 can be purchased here.
Miwa Susuda is Photobook Consultant of Dashwood Books, New York. She is Director of Session Press to introducing new work by contemporary Japanese artists. As a contributing writer to Fraction Magazine Japan, she interviewed Alec Soth and Mitch Epstein. Her writing includes “Photography and Language” for 10 x 10 American Photobook catalogue and “On Daido” exhibition catalogue for 6th International Fotobookfestival in Kassel, Germany.