Minamata: Life - Sacred and Profane. W. Eugene Smith. Soju-Sha, Tokyo, 1973. Large folio (16 x 12 in.). 12 loose plates printed n coated paper housed in photo-illustrated portfolio. Includes 2 pp. detailed chronology of Smith's career in English. SIGNED by Smith on exterior and interior folio flap.
This portfolio pre-dates the American book on Minamata by two years. It was published in conjunction with an exhibition of the photographs presented at the Seiba Department Store that traveled to other Japanese cities. Perhaps Smith's best work, Minimata documents the Japanese struggle against the ravages of pollution. Defining a classic photojournalist trope, it opens with the source of pollution and proceeds to expose its very human effects, the struggle and protests, the joy of victory and the legacy of careless destruction. It was within this essay that Smith's haunting photographs of Tomoko first appeared. 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. "Photography is a small voice at best," writes Smith, "Daily we are deluged with photography at its worst - until its drone of superficiality threatens to numb our sensitivity 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."
Contents Fine; a bit of creasing to upper corner of folio.