Minamata: Life - Sacred and Profane. W. Eugene Smith. Soju-Sha, Tokyo, . Large folio (16 by 12 inches); paper portfolio with photographic illustration on the cover. Houses a loose 2 pp. detailed chronology of Smith's career in English + twelve large well-printed plates on coated paper. SIGNED 'W. EUGENE SMITH' ON THE COVER.
One of the legendary photo-journalists of the twentieth century, Smith and his wife Aileen documented the dire consequences of industrial water pollution on the population in Minamata, Japan. Photograph of Smith + statement by Smith in English + chronology in Japanese printed inside the covers of the portfolio. Smith writes: "Photography is a small voice at best. Daily we are deluged with photography at its worst - until its drone of superficiality threatens to numb our sensivity to the image. Then why photograph? ... Because sometimes - just sometimes - a photograph or photographs can strike our senses into greater awareness...photographs can demand of emotions enough to be a catalyst to thinking."
The images chosen show the industrial pollution, the disfiguring effects of Minamata Disease on the people of the area, protests against the polluters, and the members of the environmental disputes board debating the situation. The plates are captioned in Japanese and English. This portfolio pre-dates Smith's American book on Minamata; it was published in conjunction with an exhibition of the photographs presented at the Seiba Department Store that travelled to other Japanese cities.
A near fine copy with minor corner bumps and just a few light smudges and very faint tanning along edges of portfolio.