Photo Histories
The Photographers' History of Photography

TITLE: Sequel : A Sentimental Journey, Okinawa
BY: Nobuyoshi Araki
PUBLISHED: 1971, by the author, Tokyo
SIZE: 180×126 mm
PHOTOGRAPHS: 200 black & white

Sequel : A Sentimental Journey, Okinawa

Now famous for his erotic imagery recorded mostly in his homeland of Japan, Nobuyoshi Araki (b. 1940) began his photographic publishing career with Sentimental Journey, a book of photographs of his young writer wife Yoko taken during their honeymoon.

The subsequent book Sequel : A Sentimental Journey, Okinawa is a postcard sized volume of images of the island’s streets, television screens, his wife, posters and more images of images.

On the book’s first page is Araki’s photograph of the torn cover of Camera magazine depicting August Sander’s 1928 image of two boxers in Cologne, one wonders if it is the innocence of the smile of the shorter of the two boxers that attracted Araki, or the sense of an irretrievable past.

But if this book starts by acknowledging Sander’s great documentary work, Araki goes on to show his photographs have always been suffused by his own very personal view. With Sander the viewer wonders at his objectivity, with Araki it’s all subjectivity.

“Maybe I only had a relationship with her as a photographer, not as a partner,” Araki said of his wife after she died of cancer in 1990. Evidently her presence permeates much of his work.

Germano Celant, the art critic and senior curator at the Guggenheim in New York, has described Araki’s images as “mosaics of erotic solitude” but looking at Nobuyoshi Araki’s work can also give a western viewer perhaps a glimpse into the often inscrutable Japanese psyche.

Sequel : A Sentimental Journey, Okinawa is certainly at the beginning of Araki’s prolific career, but much of the photographer’s visual language is already apparent in this self published volume.

The illustration shows the cover of a copy of the book, signed by Araki in red and blue ink, which was sold at Christie’s in London recently for £1,320 ($2,600).

Sequel : A Sentimental Journey, Okinawa was photographed at Christie’s, London in May 2007. Text copyright © 2007 Graham Harrison.

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