If you want a copy of Familiar street scenes, then a copy of the 2013 edition is likely to be cheaper than a copy of the 1981 original. And the reproduction quality, etc, could be better too, perhaps; though as I’m not familiar with the old one I don’t know.
Apologies to Gochō fans, but I’m not at all tempted. A couple of years back I got Gochō’s Retrospective catalogue, in part because it was only a thousand yen. This has 47 of these colour street photos, one to a page. (They include the colour photos here.) They’re big enough and well enough printed, but to me they seem humdrum. They’re of some historical significance and of course it’s remarkable that the dying Gochō took them, but I wouldn’t want to pay even a humdrum price for a book of them. If I understand Yagisha’s page about the new book right, the Retrospective catalogue has the entire content of the original book, to which the new book adds another 27 photos, all for eight times what I paid for the catalogue. Perhaps this should excite me but it doesn’t.
For anyone who does want to see the 47 photos (and much more by Gochō) for a sensible price: I got the Retrospective catalogue at the Yamagata Museum of Art. It’s for a show that went there and also to the Mitaka City Gallery of Art and the Niigata City Art Museum. Only the third of these appears to have a web shop; and although this lists many old catalogues it doesn’t list this one. But I wouldn’t rush to infer that cheap copies are no longer in either of the other two museums, just because some dealers are already asking silly prices for it at Amazon. Indeed, yesterday I saw a pile of them at Nadiff (Tokyo photo museum branch) for 5250 yen a pop.
What did interest me at Nadiff yeserday was Suzuki Kiyoshi’s Mind games. Especially the very first photo:
But such a price for such a slim booklet? Thanks but I’ll wait till Suzuki gets the Steidl treatment (whether or not from Steidl).
Carolyn Drake, Two rivers. Apparently promoted via Kickstarter during one of those long periods when I avoid Kickstarter because the last screenfuls I saw were too dreary. Now that I learn of it, just months after publication, already out of print. This is a great shame as the subject is most interesting and what JPEGs I’ve seen of the photos look excellent. I hope Drake follows the Sochi Project in bringing out a second edition — perhaps a regular paperback so as not to upset collectors thrilled by the (artistically!) wrong-sized cover of the first edition.
Kurata Seiji, Flash up. The original is a routine sort of paperback that contains the most enjoyable photos ever of this (rather overdone) sleaze genre. (Don’t be put off by the front cover of the original, which oddly has one of the least interesting photos in the book.) One of my rare intelligent bookshop decisions decades ago was to buy it when it came out. My copy resides in an actual bookshelf with glass doors, and when I want to look at it I have to shovel piles of other books off the floor in order to open and close these doors. I haven’t seen the new edition, which may be worth its high price; but I think I’ll just keep on shovelling.
Martin Kollar, Field trip. Though I was disappointed by Kollar’s Cahier I liked his Nothing special. JPEGs of the content of the new book looked intriguing and I recently came across a copy. The photos are just as good as I’d hoped. A lot are mystifying, which is fine with me. But for the price, I want explanations after I’ve enjoyed the mystification. True, explanatory text isn’t a trendy notion; but David Goldblatt for one provides explanations and these don’t seem to deter potential buyers or indeed award committees. If Kollar rectifies the omission (and all this needs is a web page), then I’ll buy a copy.
Seto Masato, Cesium 137Cs. Anthropomorphic branches and other mysteries of the freshly irradiated forest, a fascinating example of a kind of book that usually holds little interest for me. Expensive, but yes I can stump up the cash. It’s B4 format, which may well be justified — but I’ve simply run out of niches for the storage of books that big. ….. PS There’s currently a 20% discount if you buy the via the internet from Place M and a 30% discount on the book if you buy it at Place M.
Suda Issei, Waga Tokyo 100. Good stuff in this book, but I have one of the thousands of copies of the original, whose printing quality is tolerable.
Zhang Xiao, Shangxi. I bought Zhang’s two previous books and enjoy them both. I don’t know how many photos there are in this third one, but the photos I’ve seen of it make it look slim, and its RRP is $75 even before postage is added. And it’s got an (artistically!) wrong-sized cover. Zhang kindly provides thirty of the photos on his website, so I’ll enjoy them there. For his fourth book I hope he returns to Jiazazhi, which did a very handsome job for his They, and which sent me a copy efficiently and inexpensively.
First Rob Hornstra was refused a visa for Russia, then Arnold van Bruggen was refused one, then the Moscow exhibition of the Sochi Project was cancelled.
On Friday 18 October at 5pm, two alternative openings of The Sochi Project’s cancelled Moscow exhibition will be organised simultaneously in the Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam (Pleinfoyer) and the Sakharov Centre / Fotodok Центр Документальной Фотографии (in collaboration with Lenta.Ru) in Moscow. A small part of the cancelled exhibition will be shown in Moscow. At the same time, an online version of the cancelled exhibition will go live on Russia’s largest news portal, Lenta.ru.
For more, see this.
If (unlike me) you’re somewhere between Yaroslavl and Kiev, or somewhere between Bretagne (regular or grand) and Copenhagen, then consider going along and seeing some photos. And if (unlike me) you’re into “social media”, then book the face of the exhibitions or twatter them or something.
Meanwhile, from darkest Tokyo, I raise a glass of Dutch beer to the success of the exhibitions. (Or rather, I’ll do so twelve hours from now.)
Thames & Hudson used to publish photobooks; wondering if they still did, I surfed around their site and arrived at a book by one Sasha Gusov (Саша Гусов). What little I could see of it was interesting enough to have me duckduckgo for more, whereupon I learned of a (non-Thames-or-Hudson) book enticingly titled Belarus: Terra incognita. Photos from this aren’t obvious anywhere in Gusov’s website. The book’s page at Hurtwood Press (which prints and publishes what some body pays it to) also gives no samples, but does say it’s:
a collection of celebratory photographs of ordinary people living their lives in freedom, peace and happiness. [...] The book has an introduction by Lord Bell and gives the lie to the western perception of this beautiful country as an autocratic dictatorship.
Oh? I hadn’t been thinking of autocracy or dictatorships. But since they were mentioned. . . . With no photos to look at, there wasn’t much to go on other than the unfamiliar name “Lord Bell”. Who might he be?
Well known in the context of Belarus, it seems. “The [Belarus] regime recently hired a UK spin doctor, Lord Timothy Bell, to polish its image abroad” (No breakthrough: Another dodgy election in Belarus, Economist, 2 October 2008). There’s more on his relationship with Belarus in ‘Europe’s last dictatorship’ gets Western PR makeover (AFP, via Google, 29 November 2008).
Could Bell perhaps be some worthy, ennobled for philanthropy, whose spin-doctoring for Belarus was fully consistent with a disinterested love of that nation and appreciation of its regime? Time to investigate further.
In December 2011, Bell was the chairman of Bell Pottinger, a PR company whose employees “talked openly about the work the firm had done with other regimes with questionable human rights records including Sri Lanka and Belarus”. They were happy to be paid to fend off pesky questions about Uzbekistan, and claimed to be able to stitch up Wikipedia articles (Caught on camera: top lobbyists boasting how they influence the PM, The Independent, 6 December 2011). The claims about Wikipedia have been verified (Wikipedia founder attacks Bell Pottinger for ‘ethical blindness’, The Independent, 8 December 2011).
In 2006, “veteran fixer Tim Bell” agreed with the Saudi regime that an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office into “allegations that huge Saudi bribes had been paid by arms group BAE Systems to get weapons deals” was not necessary (Brutal politics lesson for corruption investigators, Guardian, 16 December 2006).
Bell Pottinger has done much work for the Bahrain regime (PR watch: Bell Pottinger Private, Bahrain Watch).
Hard to avoid the suspicion that Bell is happy to shill for anyone. But as he points out, while he’s not a priest, he does know the difference between right and wrong (Professional liar Lord Tim Bell with a fawning Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight). That’s good to know. Indeed, “he would not work for the Labour Party because he would lack the conviction to do so, and so believes he would do a bad job.” Though he did have the conviction to work for Pinochet, the South African National Party, and the mysteriously affluent Mark Thatcher (Godfather of spin with his fingerprints all over history, The Observer, 17 December 2006).
Bell signs the “Introduction” (preface) to the book “Lord Bell” — I’d thought plain “Bell” was good form for somebody who’s not a screaming lord — and unashamedly describes himself as “Former political advisor to Margaret Thatcher”. He was variously indiscreet in his youth (Do unethical lobbyists feel any pain at the dirty, seedy role they play in politics?, The Independent, 7 December 2011) — was the Thatcher association merely another such indiscretion? Back in 1994, when he “[had] a splendid house in Belgravia and [drove] a Bentley”, he was asked “Is Lady Thatcher still your heroine?” and responded:
Certainly. I have met some remarkable people in my life, but she was the greatest. She was in touch with the mood of the people more than any PM has ever been, and she freed the people from the burdens of the state.
(Just don’t mention the Spam fritters, The Independent, 24 May 1994)
For both instances of “the people”, read “the people living splendidly in Belgravia”, and Bell’s observation starts to make sense.
But back to the Belarus book. Further digging reveals more photos from it: some here at the book’s designer, others here (not obviously an organ of Fox “News”). These have a childish kind of humour and aren’t bad. On the cover is a leafy figure that you might momentarily take as a character from some pagan festival — until you suddenly notice his large weapon. The book then starts with a preface full of truisms, non sequiturs and falsities by a professional propagandist who has publicly succeeded in deluding himself. I can only infer that after taking the money for the book, Gusov did his best to turn it into a joke. Smart move.
The Sochi Project’s website has been revamped (English; Dutch), so that it displays what must surely be the content of the upcoming book, An atlas of war and tourism in the Caucasus. (If the Sochi Project is entirely new to you, then for a quick introduction try this at HuffPo.)
Rob Hornstra (photographer) and Arnold van Bruggen (writer) have already produced a book about the north Caucasus that for me is the best photobook of the year so far. But Rob can’t return to Russia (even for an exhibition starting less than three weeks from now), because his visa application has been turned down. (Arnold’s application is still being processed.)
If I knew any Russian diplomat, I’d ask about this matter.
Meanwhile, I’m reminded of a much older book.
The Photobook Award 2013 contenders are selected by a jury comprising renowned photography experts from around the world. Some of the choices are good, but some of the others . . . oh dear.
Photobook selection is more important than etiquette, so I gatecrashed:
Yes, Rob Hornstra and Arnold van Bruggen, The secret history of Khava Gaisanova and the north Caucasus. Or if you’re lucky enough to be able to read Dutch, then their De geheime geschiedenis van Khava Gaisanova en de Noord-Kaukasus instead, with a €5 rebate.
Buy it, read it. It has lots of Arnold’s excellent text. Yes, though some of my distinguished co-jurors choose books suitable for adorning bedside tables in department stores (and Machiguchi congratulates himself with a book designed by Machiguchi), this book requires actual reading. You know you can do it for book-books, you can do it for photobooks too.
Kikai’s pair of labyrinthine books have been on my mind in recent days. I wondered if anyone else had noted them — in (cough) any of the languages I can be bothered to read — and it turns out that yes somebody has. Of Labyrinthos = 東京夢譚, we learn:
Just like his portraits, the cityscapes were also taken in Asakusa, a former entertainment district in Tokyo, still popular because of its many temples.
There are four photos shown: from plates 43, 66, 72 and 87.
The layout of this book is very straightforward. Under every photo is (i) the plate number, (ii) the area where the photo was taken, and (usually) (iii) the year when it was photographed. Perhaps unfortunately, the second of these is only in Japanese script, so let’s transliterate (and googlegloss too):
- Plate 43: Shinjuku-ku Kabuki-chō (Google Map)
- Plate 66: Shinjuku-ku Nishi Shinjuku (Google Map)
- Plate 72: Kawasaki-shi Tama-ku Kawahara (Google Map)
- Plate 87: Shibuya-ku Nishihara (Google Map)
It would take you well over an hour to walk to any of these places from Asakusa (Google Map).
Putting aside what the photos show, just what is this place called Asakusa?
Asakusa, a former entertainment district in Tokyo, still popular because of its many temples
Oh? Though no expert, I’d guess the reasons for Asakusa’s popularity are:
- its temple, Sensō-ji
- the street leading up to this, Nakamise-dōri
- proximity to Tokyo Skytree
- view of the golden turd
- the entertainment available there (for example, theatres)
- various festivals
- shopping (predictable stuff, but also the traditional, and such places as Hayata Camera)
- places to eat and drink (here — the small spots as well as the big ones — are izakaya, Japanese-style bar/restaurants)
(And there are more ideas here.)
I may of course have failed to notice, or forgotten, the “many temples” that I’m surprised to read are in Asakusa.
Perhaps best is its footnote 4:
Sometimes, I deceive myself into thinking that I cannot live without a certain book, so I do whatever it takes to buy it. For some reason, when it is finally in my possession, I look at it only a few times, and then completely forget about it, its impact having been far less important than I initially thought.
Yes! And it’s worse than that. Some I look at only once. Or perhaps I don’t even do that.