PROVOKE: Between Protest and Performance Photography in Japan, 1960–75 is an exhibition  at Fotomuseum Winterthur in Switzerland from today, May 28 until Auguest 28th, 2016 and includes work by works by Nobuyoshi Araki, Eikō Hosoe, Kazuo Kitai, Daidō Moriyama, Takuma Nakahira, Shōmei Tōmatsu and others less well known (and including some anonymous works) associated with the remarkable magazine ‘Provoke‘.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the magazine was that there were only three issues, published in 1968-9 which were then largely ignored, but it has come to be regarded as “one of the most important photographic publications of the 20th century.”

For many photographers in the UK, our first real encounter with post-war Japanese photography came at the ICA in 1979, with the exhibition ‘Japanese Photography: Today and its Origin‘, curated by Lorenzo Merlo of Canon Photo Gallery Amsterdam, brought us face to face with the work of Hosoe, and a few years later, in 1985, the Serpentine Gallery played host to Mark Holborn‘s ‘Black Sun: The Eyes of Four‘ which included Moriyama, Hosoe and Tomatsu. I think both shows appeared without any mention of ‘Provoke’, or at least I can find no reference to it in their catalogues.

For those of us unlikely to get to Switzerland for the show, there is always the book. A hefty 680 pages I’ve yet to bring myself to buy, though at around £40 through the discount sellers it seems a reasonable bargain compared to Steidl’s limited edition ‘The Japanese Box‘ of 2001 with its facsimile publication of Provoke and books by Nobuyoshi Araki, Daido Moriyama and Takuma Nakahira, copies of which are now offered for well over a thousand pounds.

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