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Sale 2248 Lot 78
Chizu [The Map].
Text by Kenzaburo Oe. Design by Kohei Sugiura. Sumptuously illustrated with 49 black-and-white photographs and 23 4-panel gatefolds, printed in rich photogravure. 8vo, black paper-covered boards; photo-pictorial dust jacket, just lightly worn at the edges; with the die-cut paper chemise; and the printed cardboard slipcase, slightly age-darkened; folded text broadside on brown paper laid in. Roth 174; Hassleblad 212; Parr/Badger I 286. first edition.
(Tokyo): (Bijutsu Shuppansha), (August 6, 1965)
Twenty years to the day that two atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Kikuji Kawada published his beautiful, elegiac, searching book titled The Map. Widely touted as one of the best photo books ever made, Kawada's photobook is also elusive. Though the trauma of the atomic bomb serves as the throbbing thematic center, Kawada also uses his photographs of scraps of metal, possessions left behind by the kamikaze attack corps, remnants of fortifications, victims, Coca-Cola ads, TV sets, and stains on the ceilings and walls of Hiroshima's Atomic Bomb Dome, to explore recent Japanese history, as well as the cultural clash of east and west.
The beauty of Kawada's rich, layered imagery belies the powerful, aggressive questions the book asks. Culture and war butt up against each other-a crumbled, wet Japanese flag, perhaps symbolic of the country as a whole after 1945 contrasts, for example, with a bright array of televisions-and in Kawada's narrative, they are inextricably linked. Japan's cultural identity and strong sense of nationalism are both the cause and the hopeful result of trauma. And yet, he implies, this tug-of-war is far from resolved, particularly Japan's complicated relationship with the West. Pulling from two distinct bodies of work that intermingle the abstract and the specific in a sublime blend, Kawada lures the reader in as the book slowly unfurls in a series of sumptuous double gate-folds. Interestingly, none of the folds actually depicts a map, yet each serves as a reference, a question, a detail that might provide direction.
In this way the book's trajectory may appear circuitous and meandering, but is sharply delineated. Kawada employs both Japanese and English text to subtle but dramatic effect, perhaps most pointedly on the front and rear covers, which display a series of words in both languages, with the words "Enola Gray" in a punctuating, bold font (also including, importantly, text by the novelist Kenzaburo Oe, on the inserted folded brown sheet). "We are adrift in an era without courage, ambition, action, or even beautiful memories," Kawada writes, "Ask! Today, where is our map? Where is our vision and our brilliant order?"