Session 07, shortlist of Paris Photo Best Book 2015 / shortlist of the 41st Ihei Kimura Prize
TARATINE
Daisuke Yokota


Title: Taratine

Session 07

Photographer: Daisuke Yokota

Date of Publication September 2015

 

Design: Geoff Han

Photography and Essay: Daisuke Yokota

Afterword: Marc Feustel

Translation: Daniel Gonzalez, Yoshi Shiraishi

Printer: Thomas Bossuyt, die Keure, Belgium

 

Session Press is pleased to announce Taratine, the first US monograph by acclaimed Japanese photographer Daisuke Yokota. Highly regarded for his technical and aesthetic kinships with the avant-garde Mono-ha movement of the ‘60s and with Provoke-era masters such as Daido Moriyama and Takuma Nakahira, Taratine represents a new direction for Yokota, one that centers his work for the first time in another Japanese tradition, that of the confessional photographic I-novel. Comprised of photographs and a moving essay penned by Yokota, Taratine is his most personal work to date.

 

Taratine brings together two bodies of new work—one from a road trip to Tohoku in 2007, and a second taken in Tokyo in 2014. The Tohoku photographs were inspired by Yokota happening upon an ancient ginkgo tree in the Aomori prefecture. Called “Taratine”, this tree has been worshipped by generations of women for its legendary fertility-enhancing properties.  Yokota was reminded both of the Tohoku region’s traditional—and lingering—connection to the awe of natural spirits (the influence of Jomon-period animism) and of memories from his own childhood.

 

From this experience came a photographic ode to those traditions and memories, one that also expresses his strong admiration for the important women in his life: his mother, in the case of the Aomori pictures; and his girlfriend, in the Tokyo pictures. By fusing the two together in Taratine, Yokota is charting a new direction for his work. As Marc Feustel observes in the afterword, “Unlike its predecessors, Taratine is driven by a more ambiguous and slippery set of emotions and sensations. A need for maternal love evolves into lust and desire. As much a book about sounds and smells as one of images—Taratine heightens all the senses as it breathes fresh air into a grand Japanese tradition.”

 

ISBN: 978-0-692-32162-1

 

500 Regular Edition including special poster

40 Special Edition with signed and numbered inkjet 8 x 10 print

 

Afterword

The first thing you notice about Daisuke Yokota’s photographs is their texture. It might be the coarse grain of the film or the dust and hairs strewn across its surface. The emulsion itself often appears to have been pushed to breaking point: cracks, blisters, and burns proliferate creating a surprising sense of depth and tactility.

 

Yokota pulls his creations apart, exposing layer after layer of their composite parts, and drawing our attention to the fact that we are looking at a photograph and not an image. His interventions are akin to a photographic open-heart surgery, revealing the complexity and fragility of a photograph by deconstructing its anatomy.

 

One cannot help but make the link with the now legendary generation of photographers who came of age in late 1960s Japan. The gritty materiality of his work resonates with that of past masters such as Daido Moriyama or Takuma Nakahira. But beyond an undeniable aesthetic kinship, what bring Yokota closest to these pioneers are his tireless attempts to create a new photographic language.

 

Nakahira and Moriyama shook photography to its foundations, tearing down its existing structures and frameworks in order to develop a new, radical photographic vocabulary which captured and reflected the turbulence of the world surrounding them. Yokota has taken his photographic explorations in an altogether different direction. His work is driven not by the social and the political but by the personal and the emotional. His photographs are evidence of a profound sensitivity and an ability to translate both emotion and sensation in an unusually potent way.

 

This body of work takes its name from a particular gingko tree, which Yokota encountered while traveling through Japan’s northern Aomori prefecture in 2007. Known as taratine (垂乳根), the tree is believed to be more than one thousand years old. Its Japanese name can be translated literally as “drooping breast roots” and it has been worshipped by many generations of women for its ability to enhance fertility.

 

Taratine is Yokota’s ode to the women in his life and perhaps even to love itself. It brings together a group of recent photographs of intimate spaces and moments with a more expansive body of images shot during that journey north eight years earlier. As Yokota’s most profoundly personal and indeed nostalgic project, it represents a significant departure from his previous work, following in the Japanese tradition of the photographic I-novel, from Araki’s Sentimental Journey (1971) and Yoko My Love (1978) to Masahisa Fukase’s Yohko (1978) and Karasu (1986) among many others.

 

However, unlike its predecessors, Taratine is driven by a more ambiguous and slippery set of emotions and sensations. A need for maternal love evolves into lust and desire. The sensations of sticky humidity on a boyhood summer’s day resurface decades later in a hotel bedroom. Taratine is as much a book of sounds and smells as one of images—a heightening of all our senses that breathes fresh air into a grand Japanese tradition.

 

Marc Feustel, writer and curator

 

 

後書き

 

横田大輔の写真でまず目を奪われるのはそのテクスチャーである。フィルムの粗い粒子のようであり、表面に散りばめられた埃や髪のようでもある。乳剤そのものが、しばしば限界まで追いつめられているようにみえる: 裂け目、膨れ、焼け焦がしの痕が広がり、驚くべき深度と触覚性を生み出している。

 

合成部分のいくつもの層を露出することにより、横田は自らの創作物をばらばらにする。そして、イメージではなく写真を見ているのだという事実に、私たちを引き戻していく。横田の介入の方法は写真の心臓切開の手術にも似て、その解剖学を脱構築することで、写真の複雑性と脆さを明らかにしようとする。

 

これらの作品を見る者は、1960年代後半に日本で活躍した、今や伝説的な世代の写真家との接点を見出さざるを得ないだろう。横田の作品のざらざらとした物質性は、森山大道や中平卓馬など過去の巨匠たちと呼応する。しかし、その否定しがたい美的な類似性以上に横田を先駆者に最も接近させているのは、新しい写真言語をつくり出そうとする彼の不断の試みだ。

 

中平や森山は、身の周りで起きている激動を捉え、それを反映する新しいラディカルな写真言語をつくり上げるために、既成の構造や枠組をたたき壊し、写真をその根底まで揺るがした。一方、横田はそれとは全く違う方向に写真を探求する途を求めた。彼の作品は、社会的あるいは政治的なものではなく、個人的で感情的なものが契機となっている。それは、稀に見る説得力のある方法で、感情と衝撃の両方を解釈することが出来る能力と豊かな感受性の証左である。

 

本作品のタイトルは、横田が2007年に日本北部の青森県を旅した時に遭遇したイチョウの木に由来する。垂乳根として知られるその木は、樹齢千年を超えると言い伝えられる。その木の名前は、日本語では文字通り「垂れ下がった乳房の根」と訳すことができ、その繁殖を高める力のために、世代を超えて女性たちによって崇められてきた。

 

『垂乳根』は横田の生における女性への、またおそらく愛情そのものへの叙情詩である。それは8年前に北を旅した際に広範囲にわたり撮影された作品と、彼のプライベートな空間や瞬間をとらえた近年の写真から構成されている。アラキの『センチメンタルな旅』 (1971) や『我が愛、陽子』 (1978) から深瀬昌久の『洋子』 (1978) や『鴉』 (1986) まで、日本の私写真の伝統に従いながらも、横田の最も深く個人的でノスタルジックなプロジェクトとして、本作はこれまでの作品からの大きな逸脱を示している。

 

『垂乳根』は、先達の作家とは異なり、より多義的でつかみどころのない感情と感覚の欲動に衝き動かされたものだ。母性的な愛情への希求は、欲情と欲望へと発展する。少年の夏の日のべたつく湿度の感覚が、数十年後にホテルの寝室で再び蘇る。『垂乳根』は写真集であると同時に、音と匂いの本でもある – それは日本の大きな伝統に新鮮な空気を吹き込む、私たちの全感覚の高まりである。

 

マーク・フューステル (ライター/キュレーター)

 

(翻訳/白石善行)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



with one b/w poster, 160 pages, b/w and color, soft cover, 4 colors off set printing, thermography for cover and text pages