"Since 2001, I have been a regular visitor to Japan, working as an editorial photographer. I began to buy all kinds of printed matter, initially looking for classic, older material. I realised that something exciting was happening in the present and on the page as opposed to the largely wall-based phenomenon of Western 'Art Photography". the diversity of material was a fascinating counterpoint to what was happening at home. I did not know what I was bringing back, often unable to read titles, identify authors or grasp context.
For me, 'understanding' was not an issue. I was compelled to buy some books over others. It could be the sequencing, the production values or the layouts. It might be experimental camera work or the unexpected subject matter. Often, its a combination of these things. Some books seemed like terrific fails, others breathtaking immersions, others wonderfully kitsch or deeply depressing.It was usually an emotive rather than intellectual response. Japanese photography made me feel the medium again. My choice of material is not limited to what we might call monographs, commissioned and illustrative photography caught my attention too , for it's sophisticated visual traditions.
I do not claim to be an authority on Japanese photography, and it is in a spirit of enthusiasm I wanted to share a range of bewildering, inspiring material. "
Here are snaps I took at last evening's opening of CONTEMPORARY JAPANESE PHOTOBOOKS at The Photographer's Gallery which has been curated by Jason Evans alongside Tokyo-based publisher Ivan Vartanian. Above is Jason's statement on his angle of the concept which Ive lifted from the press release because it explains it better than me translating an interpretation or review. I have been lucky enough to have a little insight into Jason's library and recognise a few of these annuals so can only assume that this is actually his own collection. Funnily enough the book that inspired my S/S12 collection is on display which I was able to be reunited with, now wearing the silk print I made in response to the colours of the slugs in the photography! Here you can see that scrunchy on my wrist and the white gloves which you slip on when you enter the library to guarantee respecting and keeping Jason's books in good condition. You can also imagine perhaps that you are a Tokyo train guard and do some hand signals whilst your'e at it.
Head down to the gallery on Sunday for a curator's talk with Jason - see info here.