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Photographs by Rinko Kawauchi.
Foil, Tokyo, In English and, 2005. In Japan. Unpaged, numerous color illustrations, 9½
In the Winter 2004 issue of Aperture, Charlotte Cotton (Head of Programming at the Photographer's Gallery, London) wrote a brilliant synopsis of the work so far of Rinko Kawauchi, a young Japanese photographer with whom most of our readers will be unfamiliar. It will be surprising that Kawauchi, who is 32 years old, has also just published Aila, her third book to be published with Little More of Tokyo, a hip publishing house that has also put out books on Yoshitomo Nara and Hideki Sato. The Japanese, generally, have approached photography in a manner less restrained than in the West, and more autonomous from their traditional art forms. As such, the photobook has been a major vehicle for the dissemination of photographic imagery, rarely representing the culmination of an artists’ career but rather serving as an expected step in the creative process. Cotton mentions in her article the “lack of preciousness about single images or reproduction quality” as being singularly Japanese. Aila is a perfect example of that approach, relying instead on a clear joy in observing her surroundings bolstered by a spirited and brisk editing of the work. In this case, Kawauchi tackles the daunting subject of ‘birth and life’ with a convincing naïveté. - Darius Himes
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