I would like to recommend you a totally delicious and inspiring piece about Tokyo’s vibrant scene of photographic art spaces, photobooks shops and artists’ meteing spaces. Signed by Kenji Takazawa, it originally appeared in Issue 11 of the Aperture Photography App.
Get a taste of it:
The most experimental photography in Japan has more often than not been produced by photographers operating outside the mainstream. Before the Second World War, the scene was found in amateur photographer clubs; after the war, independent galleries provided spaces for reflection. Many of these independent galleries were set up in the 1970s by photographers who had studied at the Workshop School run by Shomei Tomatsu and Daido Moriyama, in a bid to overcome the otherwise limited options for presenting their work to the public. At this time, mainstream photography was dominated by galleries that belonged to camera manufacturers. It didn’t help that photography tended to be held in low esteem by the art world. For young photographers bent on innovative photographic expression, they really had no other option but to set up and run their own places. These independent galleries, and the amazingly original work they produced, are important to understanding photography from Japan.
Shelves at the Photobook Diner Megutama
“The only thing about photography which interests me, he says, is the aim, the taking aim,
Like a marksman.
Do you know the Zen Buddhist treatise on archery? Georges Braque gave it to me in ’43.
I’m afraid not.
It’s a state of being, a question of openness, of forgetting yourself.
You don’t aim blind?
No, there’s the geometry. Changw your position by a millimeter and the geometry changes.
What you call geometry is aesthetics?
Not at all. It’s like what mathematicians and physicists call elegance, when they’re discussing a theory. If an approach is elegant it may be getting near to what’s true.
…What counts in a photo is its plenitude and its simplicity…”
John Berger, from “Henri Cartier-Bresson”, Aperture, No 138, 1995
“Creating a visual history – and its representation – from Native memories or from Western myths: this is the question before Native image-makers and photographers today. The contest remains over who will image – and own – this history. Before too many assumptions are made, we must define history, define whose history it is, and define its purpose, as well as the tools used for the telling of it. The intent of history is to help us keep our bearings. That is, to know what is significant and, most importantly, to teach us how to recognize the significant. What happens when history os skewed, or when we no longer have the same skills of recognition? We as human beings become disabled by the inability to distinguish what is real from what is not…”
Theresa Harlan, from “Creating a Visual History: A Question of Ownership”
Aperture 139, 1995
“To the vast majority of people a photograph is an image of something within their direct experience: a more-or-less factual reality. It is difficult for them to realize that the photograph can be the source of experience, as well as the reflection of spiritual awareness of the world and of self. The painters have dome little to dispel the impression of their superiority in the creative graphic fields; thei point with scorn (and often correctly) to the shallow “storytelling” aspects of photography, and they also disapprove of photographers who attempt superficial “abstract” or “non-objective” effects within the limits of the photographic processes. To a large majority a photograph bears the same relationship to a fine painting as a contractor-designed house does to a fine architectural creation. This situation would be ridiculous were it not so tragic. The truth is that photography is limited only by the photographers!”
Ansel Adams, from “The Profession of Photography”,
Aperture, vol. 1, no. 3, 1952
“Photographers, when you get accosted by painters, who, in their innocence, revive that tiresome old argument that Photography is not an art (which is true), reply that Painting is not an art. This last is also true.
Painting and photography, sculpture and photography, pottery and photography are only media, vehicles, pushmobiles, laundry chutes that get an intangible something from one unfindable part pf one man to an unlocatable part of another person. And the ineffable something is not an art because to name it implies that art is an object, or a thing, or a biscuit, or a building that can be moved about and grasped with the hands. As many have said there is no art, only artists. Every creative photographer has to find out for himself that it’s the man behind the camera that is the artist, or not – wearisome as this may be to those who have gone through the process.”
Minor White, from “That Old Question Again”,
Aperture, vol 7, no 1, 1959