Photo Express: Tokyo

Keizo Kitajima Captures the After-Hours Denizens of 1970s Tokyo





Busking musicians, streetwalkers and shop window mannequins bustle in Keizo Kitajima's monochrome vision of Tokyo nightlife and its inhabitants. Greatly influenced by the teachings of Daido Moriyama at the legendary Japanese photographer’s Workshop school, Kitajima combined his raw approach with an aesthetic imperfection and Moriyama's stylistic 'misuse' of the camera. “I tried to become a mechanical eye,” he explains. “Whether it's to understand the systems of perception at work inside us, or to discover the components that dictate our sensitiveness, I'm convinced it's better to reproduce our systems of sight than to observe the outside world.” Initially exhibited in 1979 at the Shinjuku based Camp Gallery, Kitajima’s unfiltered and graphic pictures challenged perceptions of what photography could be, and his unconventional attitude was amplified by an incredibly forward-thinking installation for the time. Calling on New York’s Pop Art movement, Kitajima pasted his work across the gallery walls, ceiling and floor. Celebrated with the Kimura Ihei Award in 1982, Kitajima has achieved cult status for his visceral imagery and has exhibited internationally at the likes of the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography. Photo Express: Tokyo, a monograph collating a series of 12 individual punk-inspired zines published once a week for the duration of the 1979 exhibition, is released by Steidl later this month.

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