Posts Tagged ‘Kikuji Kawada The Map


Exhibition: ‘Conflict, Time, Photography’ at Tate Modern, London

Exhibition dates: 26th November 2014 – 15th March 2015

The Eyal Ofer Galleries

Artists: Jules Andrieu, Pierre Antony-Thouret, Nobuyoshi Araki, George Barnard, Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, Luc Delahaye, Ken Domon, Roger Fenton, Ernst Friedrich, Jim Goldberg, Toshio Fukada, Kenji Ishiguro, Kikuji Kawada, An-My Lê, Jerzy Lewczyński, Emeric Lhuisset, Agata Madejska, Diana Matar, Eiichi Matsumoto, Chloe Dewe Mathews, Don McCullin, Susan Meiselas, Kenzo Nakajima, Simon Norfolk, João Penalva, Richard Peter, Walid Raad, Jo Ratcliffe, Sophie Ristelhueber, Julian Rosefeldt, Hrair Sarkissian, Michael Schmidt, Ursula Schulz-Dornburg, Indre Šerpytyte, Stephen Shore, Harry Shunk and János Kender, Taryn Simon, Shomei Tomatsu, Hiromi Tsuchida, Marc Vaux, Paul Virilio, Nick Waplington, Jane and Louise Wilson, and Sasaki Yuichiro.

Curators: Simon Baker, Curator Photography and International Art, Shoair Mavlian, Assistant Curator, and Professor David Alan Mellor, University of Sussex



Roger Fenton. 'The Valley of the Shadow of Death' 1855


Roger Fenton (British, 1819-1869)
The Valley of the Shadow of Death



Another fascinating exhibition. The concept, that of vanishing time, a vanquishing of time – inspired by Kurt Vonnegut’s 1969 novel Slaughterhouse-Five and the Japanese photographer Kikuji Kawada’s 1965 photobook The Map – is simply inspired. Although the images are not war photography per se, they are about the lasting psychological effects of war imaged on a variable time scale.

While the images allow increasing passages of time between events and the photographs that reflect on them – “made moments after the events they depict, then those made days after, then months, years and so on” – there settles in the pit of the stomach some unremitting melancholy, some unholy dread as to the brutal facticity and inhumanness of war. The work which “pictures” the memory of the events that took place, like a visual ode of remembrance, are made all the more powerful for their transcendence – of time, of death and the immediate detritus of war.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

Many thankx to the Tate Modern for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.



“… taking its cue from Vonnegut, ‘Conflict, Time, Photography’ is arranged differently, following instead the increasing passages of time between events and the photographs that reflect on them. There are groups of works made moments after the events they depict, then those made days after, then months, years and so on – 10, 20, 50, right up to 100 years later.”

Simon Baker



Shomei Tomatsu 'Atomic Bomb Damage - Wristwatch Stopped at 11-02, August 9. 1945' (1961)


Shomei Tomatsu (Japanese, 1930-2012)
Atomic Bomb Damage – Wristwatch Stopped at 11.02, August 9, 1945, Nagasaki, 1961
Gelatin silver print on paper
253 x 251mm
Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Tokyo


Shomei Tomatsu. 'Steel Helmet with Skull Bone Fused by Atomic Bomb, Nagasaki, 1963'


Shomei Tomatsu (Japanese, 1930-2012)
Steel Helmet with Skull Bone Fused by Atomic Bomb, Nagasaki, 1963
Gelatin silver print on paper
226 x 303mm
Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Tokyo


Shomei Tomatsu. 'Melted bottle' Nagasaki, 1961


Shomei Tomatsu (Japanese, 1930-2012)
Melted bottle
Nagasaki, 1961
from the series Nagasaki 11:02
Silver Gelatin print
20 x 21cm
© Shomei Tomatsu



“From the seconds after a bomb is detonated to a former scene of battle years after a war has ended, this moving exhibition focuses on the passing of time, tracing a diverse and poignant journey through over 150 years of conflict around the world, since the invention of photography.

In an innovative move, the works are ordered according to how long after the event they were created from moments, days and weeks to decades later. Photographs taken seven months after the fire bombing of Dresden are shown alongside those taken seven months after the end of the First Gulf War. Images made in Vietnam 25 years after the fall of Saigon are shown alongside those made in Nakasaki 25 years after the atomic bomb. The result is the chance to make never-before-made connections while viewing the legacy of war as artists and photographers have captured it in retrospect…

The exhibition is staged to coincide with the 2014 centenary and concludes with new and recent projects by British, German, Polish and Syrian photographers which reflect on the First World War a century after it began.”

Text from the Tate Modern website


“The original idea for the Tate Modern exhibition Conflict, Time, Photography came from a coincidence between two books that have captivated and inspired me for many years: Kurt Vonnegut‘s classic 1969 novel Slaughterhouse-Five and the Japanese photographer Kikuji Kawada’s 1965 photobook The Map. Both look back to hugely significant and controversial incidents from the Second World War from similar distances.

Vonnegut was a prisoner of war in Dresden when what he called ‘possibly the world’s most beautiful city’ was destroyed by incendiary bombs, and struggled to write his war book for almost 25 years. Kawada was a young photographer working in post-war Hiroshima when he began to take the strange photographs of the scarred, stained ceiling of the A-bomb Dome – the only building to survive the explosion – that he would eventually publish on August 6 1965, 20 years to the day since the atomic bomb was dropped on the city.

It may seem odd that these great works of art and literature took so long to emerge from the aftermath of the events they concern. But many of the most complex and considered accounts of conflict have taken their time. To Vonnegut’s painfully slow response to the war, for example, we might add Joseph Heller’s brilliantly satirical Catch-22, published in 1961, and, even more significantly, JG Ballard’s memorial masterpiece Empire of the Sun, which did not see the light of day until 1984.

And today, in 2014, 100 years since the start of the First World War, it seems more important than ever not only to understand the nature and long-term effects of conflict, but also the process of looking back at the past…”

Extract from Simon Baker. “War photography: what happens after the conflict?” on The Telegraph website, 7th November 2014 [Online] Cited 09/02/2015


An-My Lê. 'Untitled, Hanoi' (1994-98)


An-My Lê (Vietnamese-American, b. 1960)
Untitled, Hanoi
Gelatin silver print on paper
508 x 609mm
Courtesy the artist and Murray Guy, New York


Jane Wilson (born 1967) Louise Wilson (born 1967) 'Urville' 2006


Jane Wilson (British, b. 1967)
Louise Wilson (British, b. 1967)
Gelatin silver print, mounted onto aluminium
1800 x 1800mm
Purchased 2011


Jane Wilson and Louise Wilson 'Azeville' 2006


Jane Wilson (British, b. 1967)
Louise Wilson (British, b. 1967)
Gelatin silver print, mounted onto aluminium
1800 x 2900mm
Purchased 2011


Jo Ractliffe. 'As Terras do fim do Mundo' Nd


Jo Ractliffe (South African, b. 1961)
As Terras do fim do Mundo (The Lands of the End of the World)
Courtesy Mark McCain collection



“At first glance, Jo Ractliffe’s black-and-white shots of sun-baked African landscapes look random and bland: rocks, dirt, scrubby trees; some handwritten signs but no people. Only when reading the titles – “Mass Grave at Cassinga,” “Minefield Near Mupa” – do you learn where the people are, or once were, and the pictures snap into expressive focus.

Ms. Ractliffe, who lives in Johannesburg, took the photographs in 2009 and 2010 in Angola on visits to now-deserted places that were important to that country’s protracted civil war and to the intertwined struggle of neighbouring Namibia to gain independence from South Africa’s apartheid rule. South Africa played an active role in both conflicts, giving military support to insurgents who resisted Angola’s leftist government, and hunting down Namibian rebels who sought safety within Angola’s borders.

It’s through this historical lens that Ms. Ractliffe views landscape: as morally neutral terrain rendered uninhabitable by terrible facts from the past – the grave of hundreds of Namibia refugees, most of them children, killed in an air raid; the unknown numbers of land mines buried in Angola’s soil. Some are now decades old but can still detonate, so the killing goes on.”

Holland Cotter. “Jo Ratcliffe: ‘As Terras do Fim do Mundo (The Lands of the End of the World)’,” on The New York Times website May 26, 2011 [Online] Cited 12/07/2021


Kikuji Kawada. 'Hinomaru, Japanese National Flag' from the series 'The Map' 1965


Kikuji Kawada (Japanese, b. 1933)
Hinomaru, Japanese National Flag
From the series The Map
Gelatin silver print
279 x 355mm
© Kikuji Kawada, courtesy the artist and Photo Gallery International, Tokyo


Kikuji Kawada. 'Lucky Strike' 1962


Kikuji Kawada (Japanese, b. 1933)
Lucky Strike
From the series The Map
© Kikuji Kawada, courtesy the artist and Photo Gallery International, Tokyo


Kikuji Kawada. 'The A-Bomb Memorial Dome and Ohta River'


Kikuji Kawada (Japanese, b. 1933)
The A-Bomb Memorial Dome and Ohta River from the series The Map
Hiroshima 1960-65
Gelatin silver print
© Kikuji Kawada



Points of memory: Kikuji Kawada

My first published photo book, The Map, took me five years to complete, beginning in 1960. In late 1961 a solo show with work from the series was held at Fuji Photo Salon in Tokyo, organised in three parts.

The first featured a ruined castle that was blown up intentionally by the Japanese army during the Second World War. The second comprised photographs taken a decade after the atomic bomb exploded in Hiroshima. They showed the stains and flaking ceilings of the Atomic Bomb Dome, the only structure left standing at the heart of the detonation zone. The third part concerned Tokyo during the period of economic recovery: images of advertising, scrap iron, the trampled national flag and emblems of the American Forces such as Lucky Strike and Coca-Cola, all twisted together, their order shuffled again and again. Some appeared as a montage to be presented as a metaphor. I dare not say the meaning of it.

These works led me to attempt to create this photographic book, using the notion of the map as a clue to the future and to question the whereabouts of my spirit. Discarded memorial photographs, a farewell note, kamikaze pilots – the illusions of various maps that emerge are to me like a discussion with the devil. The stains are situated as a key image of the series by drawing a future stratum and sealing the history, the nationality, the fear and anxiety of destruction and prosperity. It was almost a metaphor for the growth and the fall.

On the back of the black cover box are written rhyming words that are almost impossible to read. The front cover shows that the words are about to burn out. Inside, the pages are laid out as hinged double fold-out spreads. The repetition of the act of opening and closing makes the images appear and disappear. I wanted to have a book design as a new object and something that goes beyond the contents. With the rich and chaotic nature of monochrome, it might be that I tried to find my early style within the illusion of reality by abstracting the phenomenon. As an observer, I would like to keep forcing myself into the future, never losing the sense of danger which emerges in the conflicts of daily life. I wish to harmonise my old distorted maps with the heartbeat of this exhibition at Tate Modern, twisting across the bridges of the centuries through conflicting space and time.

Kikuji Kawada is a photographer based in Tokyo.

Kikuji Kawada. “Points of memory: Kikuji Kawada: Conflict, Time, Photography,” on the Tate Modern website 3 December 2014 [Online] Cited 12/07/2021


Richard Peter. 'Dresden After Allied Raids Germany' 1945


Richard Peter (German, 1895-1977)
Dresden After Allied Raids Germany
© SLUB Dresden / Deutsche Fotothek / Richard Peter, sen.


Toshio Fukada. 'The Mushroom Cloud - Less than twenty minutes after the explosion (4)' 1945


Toshio Fukada (Japanese, b. 1928)
The Mushroom Cloud – Less than twenty minutes after the explosion (4)
Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography
© The estate of Toshio Fukada, courtesy Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum


Jerzy Lewczyński. 'Wolf's Lair / Adolf Hitler's War Headquarters' 1960


Jerzy Lewczyński (Polish, 1924-2014)
Wolf’s Lair / Adolf Hitler’s War Headquarters
© Jerzy Lewczyński


Don McCullin. 'Shell Shocked US Marine, Vietnam, The Battle of Hue' 1968


Don McCullin (British, b. 1935)
Shell Shocked US Marine, Vietnam, The Battle of Hue
1968, printed 2013
© Don McCullin


Ursula Schulz-Dornburg. 'Kurchatov - Architecture of a Nuclear Test Site Kazakhstan. Opytnoe Pole' 2012


Ursula Schulz-Dornburg (German, b. 1938)
Kurchatov – Architecture of a Nuclear Test Site Kazakhstan. Opytnoe Pole
Courtesy of the artist’s studio
© Ursula Schultz-Domburg



Conflict, Time, Photography brings together photographers who have looked back at moments of conflict, from the seconds after a bomb is detonated to 100 years after a war has ended. Staged to coincide with the centenary of the First World War, this major group exhibition offers an alternative to familiar notions of war reportage and photojournalism, instead focusing on the passing of time and the unique ways that artists have used the camera to reflect on past events.

Conflicts from around the world and across the modern era are depicted, revealing the impact of war days, weeks, months and years after the fact. The works are ordered according to how long after the event they were created: images taken weeks after the end of the American Civil War are hung alongside those taken weeks after the atomic bombs fell on Japan in 1945. Photographs from Nicaragua taken 25 years after the revolution are grouped with those taken in Vietnam 25 years after the fall of Saigon. The exhibition concludes with new and recent projects by British, German, Polish and Syrian photographers which reflect on the First World War a century after it began.

The broad range of work reflects the many different ways in which conflict impacts on people’s lives. The immediate trauma of war can be seen in the eyes of Don McCullin’s Shell-shocked US Marine 1968, while the destruction of buildings and landscapes is documented by Pierre Antony-Thouret’s Reims After the War (published in 1927) and Simon Norfolk’s Afghanistan: Chronotopia 2001-2002. Other photographers explore the human cost of conflict, from Stephen Shore’s account of displaced Jewish survivors of the Second World War in the Ukraine, to Taryn Simon’s meticulously researched portraits of those descended from victims of the Srebrenica massacre.

Different conflicts also reappear from multiple points in time throughout the exhibition, whether as rarely-seen historical images or recent photographic installations. The Second World War for example is addressed in Jerzy Lewczyński’s 1960 photographs of the Wolf’s Lair / Adolf Hitler’s War Headquarters, Shomei Tomatsu’s images of objects found in Nagasaki, Kikuji Kawada’s epic project The Map made in Hiroshima in the 1960s, Michael Schmidt’s Berlin streetscapes from 1980, and Nick Waplington’s 1993 close-ups of cell walls from a Prisoner of War camp in Wales.

As part of Conflict, Time, Photography, a special room within the exhibition has been guest-curated by the Archive of Modern Conflict. Drawing on their unique and fascinating private collection, the Archive presents a range of photographs, documents and other material to provide an alternative view of war and memory.

Conflict, Time, Photography is curated at Tate Modern by Simon Baker, Curator of Photography and International Art, with Shoair Mavlian, Assistant Curator, and Professor David Mellor, University of Sussex. It is organised by Tate Modern in association with the Museum Folkwang, Essen and the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden, where it will tour in spring and summer 2015 respectively. The exhibition is also accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue from Tate Publishing and a programme of talks, events and film screenings at Tate Modern.

Press release from the Tate Modern website


Simon Norfolk. 'Bullet-scarred apartment building' 2003


Simon Norfolk
 (British born Nigeria, b. 1963)
Bullet-scarred apartment building and shops in the Karte Char district of Kabul. This area saw fighting between Hikmetyar and Rabbani and then between Rabbani and the Hazaras
© Simon Norfolk


Susan Meiselas. 'Managua, July 2004' from the series 'Reframing History'


Susan Meiselas (American, b. 1948)
Managua, July 2004
From the series Reframing History



“Cuesto del Plomo,” hillside outside Managua, a well-known site of many assassinations carried out by the National Guard. People searched here daily for missing persons. July 1978, from the series, “Reframing History,” Managua, July 2004

In July 2004, for the 25th anniversary of the overthrow of Somoza, Susan returned to Nicaragua with nineteen mural-sized images of her photographs from 1978-1979, collaborating with local communities to create sites for collective memory. The project, “Reframing History,” placed murals on public walls and in open spaces in the towns, at the sites where the photographs were originally made.



Reframing History: Excerpt, Bus (2004)


Nick Waplington. 'Untitled' from the series 'We Live as We Dream, Alone' 1993


Nick Waplington (British, b. 1965)
From the series We Live as We Dream, Alone


Nick Waplington. 'Untitled' from the series 'We Live as We Dream, Alone' 1993


Nick Waplington (British, b. 1965)
From the series We Live as We Dream, Alone



Nick Waplington’s deeply moving and once controversial photographs of the cells of Barry Island prison, where Nazi SS Officers were held prisoner before the Nuremburg trials, were taken in 1993, almost 50 years after the prisoners had embellished the cell walls with Germanic slogans and drawings of pin-up girls and Bavarian landscapes will be displayed. The half-century that elapsed between the photographs and the creation of their subject is grim testament to the enduring legacy of conflict…

“In 1992 I was commissioned to make work by the Neue galerie in Graz, Austria and the theme was war or “krieg” as it is in German. Graz is on the border with Yugoslavia and there was war in Yugoslavia at the time. I think they were hoping that I would make something to do with the war that was taking place between Croatia and Serbia and Bosnia. I did go to the war; you went to Zagreb and got a UN pass and went in to the war zone. It was very interesting to be taken into the war zone but ultimately I got back to England and I decided – to the annoyance of the gallery – that I was thinking about Austria instead. At the time, the president of Austria, Kurt Waldheim, had been exposed as a member of the SS and had been informing Yugoslavia during the war [World War Two] and the Austrians were very unconcerned about this. I thought I’d much prefer to make work that had the Austrians confronting their Nazi past rather than about the current conflict. I knew about the prison in Barry Island in South Wales where the SS were held before they were sent to Nuremberg for the trial and I started taking a series of photographs in the prison. It was lucky that I did because it was demolished the following year by the MOD. It’s gone now. When I got there, I saw the prisoners had been drawing on the walls. They’re mossy and crumbling but you can see Germanic lettering and Bavarian landscapes and women with 1940s haircuts. They are evocative and powerful given the emotive history. ”

Extract from Elliot Watson. “Nick Waplington: Conflict, Rim, Photography,” on the Hunger TV website, 26th November 2014 [Online] Cited 09/02/2015. No longer available online


Sophie Ristelhueber. 'Fait #25' 1992


Sophie Ristelhueber (French, b. 1949)
Fait #25
71 photographs, gelatin silver prints mounted on aluminium
Object, each: 1000 x 1240 x 50mm
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. Purchased 2013


Sophie Ristelhueber. 'Fait #44' 1992


Sophie Ristelhueber (French, b. 1949)
Fait #44
71 photographs, gelatin silver prints mounted on aluminium
Object, each: 1000 x 1240 x 50mm
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. Purchased 2013


Sophie Ristelhueber. 'Fait #46' 1992


Sophie Ristelhueber (French, b. 1949)
Fait #46
71 photographs, gelatin silver prints mounted on aluminium
Object, each: 1000 x 1240 x 50mm
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. Purchased 2013


Luc Delahaye. 'US Bombing on Taliban Positions' 2001


Luc Delahaye (French, b. 1962)
US Bombing on Taliban Positions
238.6 x 112.2cm
Courtesy Luc Delahaye and Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris/Bruxelles


Chloe Dewe Mathews. 'Vebranden-Molen, West-Vlaanderen' 2013


Chloe Dewe Mathews (British, b. 1982)
Vebranden-Molen, West-Vlaanderen
Soldat Ahmed ben Mohammed el Yadjizy
Soldat Ali ben Ahmed ben Frej ben Khelil
Soldat Hassen ben Ali ben Guerra el Amolani
Soldat Mohammed Ould Mohammed ben Ahmed
17:00 / 15.12.1914
From the series Shot at Dawn
© Chloe Dewe Mathews


Chloe Dewe Mathews. 'Former Abattoir, Mazingarbe, Nord-Pas-de-Calais' 2013


Chloe Dewe Mathews (British, b. 1982)
Former Abattoir, Mazingarbe, Nord-Pas-de-Calais
Eleven British soldiers were executed here between 1915-1918
From the series Shot at Dawn
© Chloe Dewe Mathews



Seeing what can’t be seen

“This is a challenge still faced by photographers today. Two years ago, the British documentary photographer Chloe Dewe Mathews set about creating a series of her own responding to the World War One. Called Shot at Dawn, it expresses her shock upon discovering that during the conflict around a thousand British, French and Belgian troops were condemned for cowardice or desertion before being executed the following morning by firing squads consisting of comrades from their own battalions. “I never knew this happened,” she tells me. “Until quite recently, no one really talked about it, because the subject was so contentious and taboo.”

Researching her series, Dewe Mathews worked closely with academics to locate the forgotten places along the western front where these unfortunate combatants had been shot. She then travelled to each spot and set up her camera there at dawn, recording whatever could be seen a century after the executions had taken place.

The results are eerie and elegiac – otherwise unremarkable, empty landscapes infused with a powerful sense of mourning, outrage and loss.”

Extract from Alastair Sooke. “Beyond boots and guns: A new look at the horrors of war,” on BBC Culture website, 11 November 2014 [Online] Cited 09/02/2015

For more information please see the excellent article by Sean O’Hagan. “Chloe Dewe Mathews’s Shot at Dawn: a moving photographic memorial” on The Guardian website [Online] Cited 09/02/2015


Chloe Dewe Mathews. 'Six Farm, Loker, West-Vlaanderen' 2013


Chloe Dewe Mathews (British, b. 1982)
Six Farm, Loker, West-Vlaanderen
Private Joseph Byers
Private Andrew Evans
Time unknown / 6.2.1915
Private George E. Collins
07:30 / 15.2.1915
© Chloe Dewe Mathews


Stephen Shore. 'Tzylia Bederman, Bucha, Ukraine, July 18, 2012'


Stephen Shore (American, b. 1947)
Tzylia Bederman, Bucha, Ukraine, July 18, 2012
Courtesy of Stephen Shore


Pierre Anthony-Thouret. 'Plate I' 1927 from 'Reims after the war'


Pierre Anthony-Thouret (French, 1861-1926)
Plate I
from Reims after the war. The mutilated cathedral. The devastated city.
Private collection, London



The limits of realism

“So how can photographers respond to conflict if not by employing strategies commonly found in photojournalism about war? One alternative approach is to focus less on documenting the heat of battle and more on remembrance – something that feels relevant this year, which marks the centenary of the start of the World War One.

Some of the most moving evocations of the Great War were captured by commercial photographers who arrived in northeast France in the wake of the conflict, when people began travelling to the region in order to see for themselves the extent of the devastation of local villages, towns, and cities. There was enormous appetite for images recording the destruction, available in the form of cheap guidebooks and postcards.

“This is one of the first episodes of mass tourism in the history of the world,” explains [curator Simon] Baker. “There were 300 million postcards sent from the western front, for instance by people visiting the places where their relatives had died. And the photographers had to make these incredible compromises: making photographs of places that weren’t there anymore.”

In the case of Craonne, which was entirely obliterated by artillery, the village had to be rebuilt on a nearby site, while the ruins of the original settlement were abandoned to nature. As a result, the only way for photographers to identify Craonne was by providing a caption.

“The idea of photographing absence became really important,” says Baker. “War is about destruction, removing things, disappearance. A really interesting photographic language about disappearance in conflict emerged and it is extremely powerful. How does one record something that is gone?””

Extract from Alastair Sooke. “Beyond boots and guns: A new look at the horrors of war,” on BBC Culture website, 11 November 2014 [Online] Cited 09/02/2015


Pierre Anthony-Thouret. 'Plate XXXVIII' 1927


Pierre Anthony-Thouret (French, 1861-1926)
from Reims after the war. The mutilated cathedral. The devastated city.
Private collection, London



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Exhibition: ‘Metamorphosis of Japan after the War: Photography 1945-1964’ at the Berlin Museum of Photography

Exhibition dates: 9th March – 17th June 2012


Eikoh Hosoe. 'Barakei (Ordeal by Roses), No. 16' 1961


Eikoh Hosoe (Japanese, b. 1933)
Barakei (Ordeal by Roses), No. 16
Gelatin silver print
© Eikoh Hosoe



The joy of the discharged soldier (upon survival); the regimentation of the market place; the inquisitiveness of youth.
The blackness (incineration) of the body; the blackest sun; the memorial of mapping.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

Many thankx to the Berlin Museum of Photography for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.


Tadahiko Hayashi. 'Discharged soldiers, Shinagawa Station' Tokyo 1946


Tadahiko Hayashi (Japanese, 1918-1990)
Discharged soldiers, Shinagawa Station
Tokyo 1946
Gelatin silver print
© Yoshikatsu Hayashi


Shigeichi Nagano. 'Completing management training at a stock brokerage firm' Tokyo 1961


Shigeichi Nagano (Japanese, 1925-2019)
Completing management training at a stock brokerage firm
Tokyo 1961
Gelatin silver print
© Shigeichi Nagano


Ken Domon. 'Children looking at a picture-card show' Tokyo 1953


Ken Domon (Japanese, 1909-1990)
Children looking at a picture-card show
Tokyo 1953
Gelatin silver print
© Ken Domon Museum of Photography



On August 15th, 1945 the Pacific War came to an end and with it fourteen years of bombings, of deprivation and of great sacrifice for the Japanese people. The collapse of Japanese militaristic rule and the arrival of the US occupation forces thrust the nation into a new and uncertain era. It was in this context that photography took on a central role in the nation’s rediscovery of self and it soon became a vital contributor to Japanese society in the immediate postwar years. Metamorphosis of Japan after the War. Photography 1945-1964 reveals the changing face of life in Japan from the end of the Pacific War in 1945 to the Tokyo Olympic Games in 1964 through photographs by 11 of Japan’s leading post-war photographers. By observing the role of photography in the evolution of post-war Japan, this exhibition shows how photography was able to play a crucial role in the search for the nation’s new identity. The works of these 11 photographers are an extraordinary document of the birth of a new Japan and of a new photographic generation whose dynamism and creativity laid the foundations for modern Japanese photography. The exhibition is divided into 3 thematic sections based around the major periods of the postwar years:


The aftermath of war

With the end of the war magazines and newspapers flourished as years of censorship gave way to an editorial boom. Publications that had been banned during the war resurfaced just as new ones went to press for the first time. Improvements in printing techniques also allowed the mass production and distribution of publications containing photographic reproductions. Photographs played a central role in this information boom, as people sought objectivity in the place of the military propaganda that they had been subjected to for several years. People turned to photography to find the ‘truth’ that they sought. This photographic explosion brought about a profound reflection on the nature of the medium and on its role in society. The public’s demand for objectivity led to the emergence of a powerful social realism movement in the immediate post-war years. The atrocities of the war and the massive physical destruction of the country led photographers to adopt a direct approach and to focus on bearing witness and documenting what they saw around them. Photographers abandoned pictorialism and the propaganda techniques of the wartime years to immerse themselves in reality. Of those photographers who had already been active in the pre-war years including Domon Ken, Hamaya Hiroshi, Kimura Ihee and Hayashi Tadahiko, Domon became the leading proponent of the photo-realism movement. He advocated “the pure snapshot, absolutely unstaged” and urged photographers to “pay attention to the screaming voice of the subject and simply operate the camera exactly according to its indications.” As a regular contributor to Camera magazine, he became very active in the world of amateur photography and encouraged camera club members to follow this realist path.


Tradition versus modernity

Despite its predominance in the immediate post-war years, the social realist movement was not to last. It captured a specific moment in time when the nation needed to take stock of the Pacific War and of its consequences. Photographers increasingly began to view the movement as too rigid and heavily politicised. Hamaya for instance chose to break away and adopted a new approach, both in terms of style and subject, when he began his work on the coast of the Sea of Japan, leading to the series Yukiguni (Snow country) and Ura Nihon (Japan’s Back Coast). In these series Hamaya displayed a more humanist approach than seen in social realism and chose to focus instead on a timeless aspect of Japanese rural society, rather than on the social issues linked directly to the immediate post-war. By the mid 1950s many photographers were turning away from documenting the destruction of the war to focus on the stark contrast between ‘traditional’ Japan and the modernisation of Japanese society associated with the American occupation. The hardships of the 1940s were rapidly replaced with rapid industrialisation and economic growth as Japan was modernised. These changes had a deep impact as Japan’s complex social structures were thrown into upheaval with the country’s economic transformation. Photographers focused not only on capturing the emergence of this new economic and social paradigm in Japan’s cities, but also sought to document those areas of Japan which were less affected by modernisation and offered a window onto the country’s past.


A new Japan

In addition during the second half of the 1950s a new generation of photographers was coming of age. They had grown up during the war but were only beginning to find their photographic eye during the post-war years. From this generation, a new photographic approach referred to as ‘subjective documentary’ was born. In 1959, the most innovative photographers of the time founded the agency Vivo which, despite its short lifespan, was to become a key contributor to the evolution of Japanese photography. With photographers such as Narahara Ikko, Tomatsu Shomei, Kawada Kikuji or Hosoe Eikoh, Vivo put forward the idea that personal experience and interpretation were essential elements in the value of a photographic image. These photographers developed a particular sensibility influenced by ‘traditional’ Japan as well as by the turbulence of postwar reconstruction and the explosion of economic growth. Their photographic eye turned both to the past, to the Japan of their childhood that they saw disappearing, and to the future and the ever-increasing modernisation that was transforming Japanese society. Over 10 years after the atomic bombings, this new generation of photographers also began to engage with the legacy of these events and their future significance, both for Japan and for all of humanity. The series that emerged including Kawada’s Chizu (The Map), Hosoe’s Kamaitachi and Tomatsu’s Nagasaki 11:02, are amongst some of the most powerful statements in twentieth century photography.

Press release from the Berlin Museum of Photography


Takeyoshi Tanuma. 'Dancers resting on the rooftop of the SKD Theatre' Asakusa, Tokyo 1949


Takeyoshi Tanuma (Japanese, 1929-2022)
Dancers resting on the rooftop of the SKD Theatre
Asakusa, Tokyo 1949
Gelatin silver print
© Takeyoshi Tanuma


Ikko Narahara. 'Domains. Garden of Silence, No. 52' Hakodate, Hokkaido 1958


Ikko Narahara (Japanese, 1931-2020)
Domains. Garden of Silence, No. 52
Hakodate, Hokkaido 1958
Gelatin silver print
© Ikko Narahara


Keisuke Katano. 'Woman planting rice' 1955


Keisuke Katano (Japanese)
Woman planting rice
Gelatin silver print
© Keisuke Katano


Shomei Tomatsu. 'Fukuejima Island Nagasaki' 1963


Shomei Tomatsu (Japanese, 1930-2012)
Fukuejima Island
Nagasaki 1963
Gelatin silver print
© The Japan Foundation


Kikuji Kawada. 'The Map. The A-Bomb Memorial Dome and Ohta River Hiroshima' 1960-65


Kikuji Kawada (Japanese, b. 1933)
The Map. The A-Bomb Memorial Dome and Ohta River
Hiroshima 1960-65
Gelatin silver print
© Kikuji Kawada



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Berlin Museum of Photography website


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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, an art and cultural memory archive, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

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