Saturday, March 19, 2011
photo book review: Takashi Yasumura, Domestic Scandals
The Japanese are well known for their photo books - in fact there's an English-language coffee table volume dedicated just to Japanese photobooks of the 1960's and 1970's. Your big-city chain bookstore might carry this anthology, where you might also find the occasional monograph by Daido Moriyama, who I wrote about here, or Nobuyoshi Araki, but beyond those international stars the Japanese photo book can be hard to come by in the brick-and-mortar world. I bought this from Dashwood Books in New York. Article first published as Book Review: Domestic Scandals by Takashi Yasumura on Blogcritics.
This collection of thirty-six photographs opens with what is in effect a visual overture: an image of a plain carpet hard by a set of sliding doors decorated with a traditional bonsai tree pattern. If what follows is a succession of isolated objects of the modern world, the humor and elegance of the images speaks to the timelessness of the tradition in that first image: the minimalism and grace present in the bonsai sliding doors are given to the most humble things, from a stapler to a garden hose to a coffee pot, and curtains that should have been replaced so long ago that they’re hip now.
Domestic Scandals is perhaps a sensationalistic translation of the Japanese title of Takashi Yasumura’s dryly hilarious photobook. According to one of three writers who contribute essays to the book, the literal translation is the more modest and unjudgemental Everday-like-ness, and such is the unassuming world the photographer shows you in this wrly humorous book. Like William Eggleston, Yasumura finds striking images in the ordinary: a pair of bedroom slippers under a bed recalls a sloppier image in the classic photo book William Eggleston’s Guide.