Keizo Kitajima: The Joy of Portraits

Keizo Kitajima: The Joy of Portraits
Library Shelf Location 18.KITA
Publication Date
Description In 1976 Keizo Kitajima made his impressive debut with photographs capturing Koza in Okinawa, a town near the US military base, in the period just after the end of the Vietnam War. Subsequently, he expanded his purview to include Tokyo, New York and Eastern Europe. While the photographs he made during those periods still strike us with their dazzling quality, Kitajima drastically changed his method of photographing after he visited the Soviet Union in 1991, as that nation was on the verge of collapsing; that is, Kitajima changed his place of work from the street to the studio, and in doing so, he denied the aesthetics of “selection” and “instantaneity” that is typical of street snapshot photography. In his still ongoing series Portraits, using a view camera instead of a hand-held camera, Kitajima repeatedly photographs the same models at certain intervals, following self-imposed conditions and rules. So far, he has photographed more than three hundred people, with the total number of his photographs amounting to over two thousand. This series has neither an ending nor a completion in the usual sense of the words. This means it will attain neither success nor failure. These pictures are no more than “photographs of faces,” which have nothing to do with a sense of beauty or any aesthetic judgment. Still, viewers of this series nevertheless encounter the terrible dynamics of these images. Deprived of any hope of empathy or interpretation, the viewer’s gaze is stopped by the surfaces of the photographs and is caught up in their “denseness without denseness.” But, is not this the specificity of our experience of looking at photographs? We realize, then, that the “photographs of faces” are not representations or substitutions, but instead are nothing but “originals.” What is at stake in this series, which Kitajima has been working on ever since he gave up street snapshot photography, is perhaps more significant than we can ever have imagined. Aimed at disclosing the whole picture of the extraordinary photographer Keizo Kitajima’s work, the photobook THE JOY OF PORTRAITS is composed of two volumes (874 pages in total), and the series printed in the book include PORTRAITS (1992—present), Koza 1975, U. S. S. R. 1991 and others, including a number of as yet unpublished photographs. A long-awaited photobook published after eighteen years by the photographer Keizo Kitajima, who has continued to make his presence felt in the photo world even though the whole picture of his work has not been hitherto revealed.
Quantity 1
Pages 874
Author Shino Kuraishi
Format Hardcover (boxed)
Publisher Rat Hole Gallery, Tokyo
Related Artist Keizo Kitajima
Category Photography
Keyword Portraits
Language English

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