We are fans of Daido Moriyama, but since he is popular and the copies of his books that we see are usually expensive, we can’t claim to know his entire work very well.
In Hong Kong one day, we saw a copy of his book selling for HKD 29,000, which is about slightly more than S$4,500. On the web, you see it being sold for $6,000. Now, this book seems like a treasure; wrapped, there was no way to know or guess just what lay within.
We forgot about the book, but one day in Japan, we were doing our favourite thing – observing pretty stationery and beautiful books in a store – and I was doing the usual “Oh what Daido Moriyama books do they have here” sweep, and I saw something and thought my eyes were playing tricks on me.
Bye Bye Photography, the spine says.
Best buy. This seems to be small format reprint, and the price was approximately S$40. “Grab first, talk later!” I said as I hugged the book.
When I got back, I tried to find out more about the providence of this reprint. Apparently, the original negatives/ prints do not exist and reproductions were made from the first book. There is a version by PowerShovel books, and this one I am holding is from Kodansha. Fascinating.
It was touching to see a seminal work from 1972 in print, never mind that I was holding a format almost half the size of the original. Here’s the text that appears at the start of my edition of the photobook.
At the time, I was stuck and overwhelmed in that narrow gap between an excessive expectation of and excessive disappointment in photography. One could say I was just at the point of drowning in a sea of thought about my own photography.
But then, at last, in making this photobook, I had swam to shore and was released from this consuming sea.
I wanted to take photography to its very end and nullify it. […]
But the one thing that was nullified was me and photography as though sneering at my attempt continues to be at my side (albeit aloofly so) even with the passage of forty years.
I can’t confess to being any good at reviewing photo books. But to add to the mystical opening, you have dark pages within, with smears and scratches and glimpses of a world that no longer exists. There are hidden figures, people dancing under trees, commercials from another era, long dresses … images that seep from and off the page into the everlasting.
The book shows its age, but then valiantly tromps off into the future, right into a reader who’s viewing for the first time in 2013, awed.
PS. It appears that this 2857 yen version is being sold at a premium online. If you are interested in the book, maybe it’s time to head to Japan.