“A METAPHOR OF THEATER-AS-LIFE, AND OF LIFE-AS-THEATER”: MORIYAMA’S FIRST BOOK, JAPAN-A PHOTO THEATER, PRESENTATION ASSOCIATION COPY WITH EXCEPTIONAL PROVENANCE
MORIYAMA, Daido. Nippon Gekijo Shashincho [Japan-A Photo Theater]. (Tokyo: Muromachi-Shobo, 1968). Square octavo, original olive limp paper wrappers, original corrugated cardboard slipcase. $3900.
First edition of Moriyama’s first book, his combined impressions of Japanese theater and urban street-life, in 145 full-page high-contrast photogravures, with notation of provenance in book (translated from the Japanese): “April. 4. 1969. Moriyama Daido entrusted this to me to give to Alan Porter. Camera Mainichi. Yamagishi Shoji.”
Moriyama's pictures are "shot without heed to the accepted protocols-chance condensations of light mix evidence with abstraction. Like the radar sweep, they obliterate as they reveal" (Neville Wakefield). This work brilliantly combines his photo-essay on Japanese theater with "images of other types of urban outsiders to make a metaphor of theater-as-life, and of life-as-theater" (Parr & Badger). In his own words, "My underlying thought was to show how in the most common and everyday, in the world of the most normal people, in their most normal existence, there is something dramatic? This kind of chaotic everyday existence is what I think Japan is all about." In the mid 1970s Moriyama developed his ultimate trademark style (for which this book is the clear prototype) by renting a Tokyo shop and a photocopier, and for 14 days, producing photocopied books of his images on demand. "The photocopier methodology inevitably pushed Moriyama's imagery to the limits of coherence, as was the intention" (Parr & Badger, 301). It can be asked of each of Moriyama's works, "Is there to be found anywhere else in the history of photographic bookmaking such a raw cry as this?" (Roth). Japanese text by Shuji Terayama. Parr & Badger, 288. See Roth, 218-21. Alan Porter was the publisher of the Swiss journal Camera Magazine, and Shoji Yamagishi was the editor of Camera Mainichi, a notable Japanese photography magazine that featured many of Moriyama's photographs.
A fine copy.