Moriyama: Chasing the Dog

Daido Moriyama (born 1938) is one of many photographers that I continue to be impressed and influenced by, but it is his distinct framing method and visual style that confirms that it is possible to make a life from following expressionistic photography.  This is a style that I have been pouring over more and more in the past few years; a style where 'shooting from the hip' is endorsed and accepted, and where conventional rules of framing or processing can be broken.

I travelled to the newly opened Klein + Moriyama show at the TATE Modern Gallery, in London.  Although it was the closing weekend of the Edvard Munch show I had no interest of seeing anything other than photography; also, I hadn't realised that I was so wrapped up in planning my photography trip that I forgot that the London Film Festival was on.  It was not until I was outside the BFI that it became obvious, and unimportant.  I was there for photography.

The Klein + Moriyama show at the TATE was nothing short of brilliant programming.  For more information on the show I would advise visiting the TATE website.  The exhibit led viewers through the works of William Klein, a primary influence on Moriyama and a fantastically modern photographer in his own right.  Their similarities are many: stark monochromatic prints (most of the time); freer framing methods (at odds with traditionalists or documentarians); they created bodies of work on cities and specific areas - including portraits, landscapes and abstracts (favouring urban detritus, advertising, reflections).  Much of what was on show can be found echoing in the work of contemporary American greats such as Garry Winogrand, Lee Freidlander, and Diane Arbus; as well as the more contemporary work of Jacob Aue Sobol.

At the end of the exhibition, in the Moriyama half of the floor, that I became really excited by two bodies of work I have never had a chance to see before (the preceding projects can be purchased as photobooks or in a larger photobook entitled Daido Moriyama: The World Through My Eyes).  These final works were Tales of Tono (1976), which was displayed as a series of prints and as slideshow, and Polaroid/Polaroid 1997 in which Moriyama recreated his entire studio using Polaroids.  Tono was captivating: it was the first time I had seen the entire project projected or printed and it was the first time I had seen Moriyama work in a rural setting.  This is a body of work I will have to come back to shortly - in relation to my own work, which will also be based in a more pastoral locale.

The highlight of the weekend was a printing show with Moriyama himself, where attendants were able to make a custom photobook of twenty prints from an available sixty with a signed silkscreen cover (yes, there was even a choice of cover).  This allowed me to edit together my own book of Moriyama's work, including a selection of rare colour prints.  Forget that old saying about not meeting your idols - this was an experience of a lifetime!

[Print Workshop with Daido Moriyama, TATE Modern, London, October 2012]

[Print Workshop with Daido Moriyama (pictured), TATE Modern, London, October 2012]


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