prints of Watabe Yūkichi’s “Criminal Investigation”

Watabe Yūkichi exhibition at TAPThough it thrilled the small, photobook-obsessed corner of the blogosphere, the book of Watabe Yūkichi’s series A Criminal Investigation whelmed me. It’s pretty, even elegant; but the printing doesn’t show detail (and doesn’t make up for this in any obvious way), the elastic band is going to age, and it costs a lot. It contains material for perhaps one quarter of some other, excellent book; but I give it three stars out of five.

Still, I do like the photos, and atsushisaito tipped me off to a show of the series at the TAP Gallery (map, map), running till 8 July. He was most (politely) persuasive, so Mrs microcord and I went out to see it.

As we got out of the train I heard my name called and there was a friend I hadn’t seen for over a decade, together with a handsome young man. After a short chat we emerged. Featureless at first glance, the neighbourhood quickly turned out to have a lot of fascinating corners. The weather was glorious. So I was already in a good mood as we walked in the door.

Watabe Yūkichi exhibition at TAP: the one I boughtI forgot to count how many photos there were around the small room. Not too many. The small prints — I think what are quaintly called “8 by 10” — are large enough. They’re darker than the reproductions in the book, more detailed, and (something I always like) sometimes from different frames. “Vintage prints” (not exhibited) cost peanuts by DLK Collection’s standards but major moolah by mine. But the prints exhibited were priced so reasonably that I peeled notes from my tight wad. Yes, I bought a print (of a frame that doesn’t appear in the book); here’s an atrocious reproduction.

Like many photo galleries, TAP has a shelf of books and so on of particular connection to its regular exhibitors. These shelves are usually of interest (notably signed yet slightly discounted copies of Dodo Shunji’s Ōsaka at Totem Pole). TAP doesn’t disappoint: it has issue number zero of a new photo magazine, Ima. This has a bit too much of an emphasis on names (Ryan McGinley etc) amply hyped elsewhere, but all the same there’s good stuff. At 1500 yen a pop the magazine won’t be cheap, but this is only 60% or so more than the cost of Asahi or Nippon, which don’t offer many good photos these days. (The current Asahi has Bangladesh by Kikai and a good series by Someya Manabu, but little else. A high percentage of the nudes show industrial-strength retouching, but there’s no hint of ironic intent.) It’s a brave or insane publisher that starts a magazine in Japan, where the more interesting new magazines (e.g. Kaze no tabibito) reliably shrivel and die; let’s hope that this Ima lasts long and without becoming just yet another shoppers’ guide.

Here’s TAP (counting down to a party):

TAP Gallery, Tokyo
TAP Gallery, Tokyo

Seeing Watabe’s good photos put me in the mood to take some crap photos. I took a very slightly roundabout route to the nearest station and encountered these sights on the way:

bench outside a hairdresser's near TAP
building near TAP Gallery
shop advertising piano something-or-other near TAP Gallery
building near TAP Gallery
Pork curry for just 430 yen at this shop near TAP Gallery
building near TAP Gallery
building near TAP Gallery
delicious meal options near TAP Gallery

Reading material in the train on the way back home. TAP Gallery obligingly has not one but three postcards for the show.

postcards from TAP Gallery's Criminal Investigation show

Go to TAP Gallery for your free set of postcards, but buy a print (or three) while you’re there.


3 Comments on “prints of Watabe Yūkichi’s “Criminal Investigation””

  1. Mandoflex says:

    Thanks for the heads up! Went there today – on the last day – and was positively surprised. It was definitely a trip worth while. I don’t have the book and was not overly excited when I flipped thrugh it about a year ago, but I was so excided by the prints that I ended up buying one.
    BTW the bookshop around the corner (Eastend Tokyo Books, 〒135-0022, 東京都江東区三好3-9-6 FRI-SUN 12:00~19:00) is really a must visit when in the neighbour hood. I picked up a few used photo books for reasonable prices and an old photo book themed issue of Studio Voice from 1990.

  2. microcord says:

    I’m happy to hear that you liked the show. I wonder which print you got — I’d have happily bought more than one myself; but quite aside from the money, I don’t have wall space for one, let alone several.

    I hadn’t heard of Eastend Tokyo Books; I can only hope that you left a few goodies there for me to discover when I go to pick up my print.

    • Mandoflex says:

      I got the one where the detective is speaking on the phone. Probably not the most original choice but he looks incredibly cool on that photo. I love the old phone and the background. Picking 3-4 would have been easier.
      Today I received a used copy of “Morocco” from an Osaka bookstore through Amazon jp. 1050 yen including postage for a non-smelly copy in excellent condition is a steal – thanks for pointing that out in one of your other blog posts. I will try to drop by JCII before leaving JP to pick up some of their publications.

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