At long last, after years of following, liking, and double-tapping almost every post on Twitter and Instagram, Chicako Watanuki finally released a zine! And, guess what? It sold out in minutes and you can’t have mine!
If you’re familiar with Watanuki’s work, you know all about it already: mostly shallow focus, mostly flowers, all film. I have Makoto Azuma and Shunsuke Shiinoki’s Encyclopedia of Flowers II (their series of flower arrangements by Azuma, photographed by Shinnoki is now up to at least IV and more or less recommended, but never unboxed or reviewed) and they’re great at what they do—Azuma’s arangements in particular—but give me Watanuki’s soft, tactile, fragrant, photographs anytime.
They look like a dream, a memory; there’s joy and wonder and longing in them. I’ve tried my hand at making similar sorts of images more than once, usually to finish off a roll (as I did with a roll of PanF 50 some years ago), with limited success, and really appreciate having some of her work in print. (In looking back through my history, it seems I already have a zine with her work in… Nice.)
Looking more closely, at printed photographs in hand, up close and not backlit on a screen, the photographs really come alive in all their languorous beauty. They make me want to plant wildflowers all over the backyard and spend the late spring, summer, fall, crawling around on the ground, but I know I’d last about 3 minutes before the allergies sent me running back inside. I should spend more time at the various arboretums and botanical gardens around, but I feel like a trespasser when I grub around in their precisely-ordered beds.
But, then, Watanuki has already done it, and done it better than I could. Thankfully, I now have a zine in addition to her social media.
If you don’t already, go follow @chicic on Twitter and Instagram. Maybe agitate for a reprint or a book, even, something with a larger run. Watanuki was surprised when the 50 copies of her zine sold out in mere days, and Michael Mack or the people at Steidl or Super Labo or someone should get with her and work something out. This excellent work deserves to be in front of, in the hands of, more people. It’s really excellent stuff, and I’m thrilled to be one of the lucky few to have her first zine.