A/fixed was a platform for bringing Japanese Photography to western audiences, and, for me, it was welcome. The first issue of their journal (A/fixed Journal vol. 1, Spring 2017), subtitled “Provoke Generation: Japanese Photography ’60’s-’70’s”, focused on what, for me, is the first thing I think of when I think of Japanese Photography, probably the first thing almost everyone thinks of when they think of Japanese Photography, if they think of Japanese Photography at all, and approaches it from many different angles.
‘A/fixed vol. 1’ consists of interviews with Provoke members and contemporaries, curators, printers, and filmmakers, mixed with a sort of travelogue, and gives a great view to multiple sides of the Provoke movement/group/moment. This breadth of coverage was certainly missing in the 10 minutes we spent on photography in the Japanese Art History class I took in undergrad, and is equally missing from contemporary discussions I come across. Granted, Eric Kim has been one of my main sources of information on Provoke, though I’ve mixed that in with Conscientious and other, more scholarly, resources, but it’s all been lacking, somewhat. While ‘A/Fixed vol. 1’ is a long way from a scholarly deep dive into Provoke, it provides a solid overview of all aspects, from the political to the aesthetic, from the theory to the practice, from the latent image to the print, and I look forward to seeing what vol. 2 brings.
Overall, I’d give it 4.3 stars.
‘A/fixed’ was an imprint of the Japanese Photography Project, which “aim[ed] to foster a broad understanding of the history of Japanese photography and its many facets: cultural, historical, and artistic” and A/fixed was a great start to that effort. Sadly, the A/fixed and Japanese Photography Project websites are both defunct as of 2022, and I’m unable to find any evidence of them. There’s an interview between Tsuyoshi Ito, the JPP Director, and Simon Baker on Aperture, and a better review of the A/fixed zine on the Eye of Photography, so I’m not making things up…. The JPP produced some really fine looking portfolio collections. The first, from the Provoke group, of course, was sadly quite a bit out of my price range, but it looked great, and if I had the money for one, I probably would’ve jumped on it. As it was, this modest little tabloid convinced me to hunt down a copy of Steidl’s Provoke: Between Protest and Performance—Photography in Japan 1960/1975 for a sort of early birthday present, so maybe it did its job… Shame that the whole thing is now defunct.