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Daido Moriyama – Paperback’s Exhibition

Last month, I went to Yokohama, Japan for a wedding shoot after which I extended my trip by an extra 2 nights in Tokyo. One of the things I try to do when I travel is to find out if there are any noteworthy photography exhibitions taking place during the time of my visit. It was thus with great excitement when I found out that Daido Moriyama was having an exhibition at the B Gallery (a small gallery within a Beams store in Shinjuku). This exhibition, Paperback’s, featured a selection of poster-sized silkscreen prints as well as their corresponding silver gelatin prints from some of his recent books that were released by publisher Kodansha. Many of Moriyama’s books by Kodansha are re-releases of older, out-of-print, and now very expensive books.

The last time I viewed an exhibition of Moriyama’s was in Sapporo 2 years ago which featured his Hokkaido photographs. The interesting thing for me about the Paperback’s exhibition was that Moriyama was going to give a talk at the gallery together with Satoshi Machiguchi (photo book designer) and Takashi Nakamoto (photo book producer) on the day I was to arrive in Tokyo. Seats were only available through reservation and not surprisingly, all 30 were already taken up. On the advice of Japan Exposure‘s Kurt Easterwood, I decided to just gatecrash the talk and hope that I would not get chased out!

A 3D model (from the front and back) of Moriyama’s famous Stray Dog photograph!

I arrived about an hour early and spoke to the guy manning the gallery. He said that it probably would not be a problem if I just stood at the back during the talk. Satisfied with that, I proceeded to do some street photography in Shinjuku to pass the time and came back 10 mins before the talk was due to start. I stayed for the whole talk (in Japanese), did not get chased away but I did not understand a word of it. Good fun! Here are some photos from the talk.

Photo book designer Satoshi Machiguchi.

After the talk, Moriyama stayed around to autograph books and posters as well as pose for photos with whoever wanted to. Originally, I only bought a book as I was wondering how I would be able to carry the large poster back to Singapore without it getting damaged. I finally decided the opportunity was too good to miss and decided to go ahead and get a poster first; then figure out later on how to get it back to Singapore unscathed. The obvious choice was his famous Stray Dog photograph but with the impending arrival of my first child in a month’s time, the thought of having this print of a fierce and demonic-looking dog hanging on my wall was not very appealing. I ended up choosing one of his images (see below) that he took in Sao Paulo of a guy on a bus (I am still having a running debate with my wife on whether the subject is a man or a woman… what do all of you think?). I think the photograph was taken in 2008. I love the sixties feel to it, the framing, the mood, the feeling of a beginning of a journey, the contemplative look of the person and most of all, the huge grain present due to it being blown up so big (about 42 x 30″)!

The solution to getting it back home undamaged was buying a 300-yen cardboard tube from Tokyu Hands (a large stationery shop) and hand-carrying the print back to Singapore. The following is the print which I had framed and is now hanging right next to my work area (Ricoh GR1v is there for size reference).