Japanese Photography '60s-'70s
A recent long weekend gave me a chance to read the first issue of A/Fixed, a new magazine specialising in Japanese photography. Although it is today more accessible in the West thanks to photographers such as for example Daido Moriyama, Nobuyoshi Araki and Hiroshi Sugimoto, the sheer vastness of material available in print and more particularly photobook form is daunting. Adding to that the language barrier, it is actually quite difficult for non-Japanese speakers to familiarise themselves easily with Japanese photography. This is the gap this magazine fills in an interesting, entertaining, academic and yet readable way. The first issue covers the Provoke Generation (1960s-1970s), so called after the short-lived magazine issued in 1968-1969 as a platform for new photographic expression. One of the main attractions of A/Fixed is that it places this movement within the political and social context of the time in Japan. The articles cover Provoke, but also the influence of William Klein on the Japanese photographers of that era (most famously on Daido Moriyama), interviews with various photographers many of whom were new to me, protest photography, the beauty of the Japanese photobooks and the printing process for which Japan is still known today. There are also helpful biographies of the main photographers of that era. I particularly enjoyed the articles written by Pete Duval because he takes us along on his voyage of discovery in Japan, from visits to photographers’ home and studio, to Japanese restaurants which would probably not win any Michelin stars but which have plenty of character. A final word about the format of the magazine which must have been chosen quite deliberately: it is in newspaper format (think Le Monde or the old format of The Guardian before it moved over to the tabloid format), but in good thick quality paper which does not stain the fingers. Somehow it befits this topic very well.
The overall effect of this magazine is that I have expanded my knowledge of Japanese photography, discovered more wonderful photographers and whet my appetite for a trip to Japan. The team at A/Fixed are already working on the second issue, but the first can still be purchased (I believe still for the sole cost of shipping) from Instagram ( @afixed.in ) or on their website at www.afixed.in .