Works collects the best of Hiromix’s commercial work from 1995-2000, and it’s the latest and last Hiromix book in my collection. 😢
There may be other Hiromix books… I don’t know and I’m not going to go hunting as I’m (mostly) out of my impulse-photobook-buying phase, all praise and thanks be to God.
I’ll say right up front that it goes completely against my nature to review this particular Hiromix book last. I eat my spinach before I have my desert. Always. It’s a compulsion that I can’t seem to break; it means I eat loads of spinach and have far less desert than many others.
If I had my druthers, I’d be pitting the Steidl book or Girls Blue against Daido Moriyama’s excellent “Woman of the Night” series. (If you’ve been following along, I’ve been going Moriyama, Hiromix, Moriyama, Hiromix for a few months now.) It’s not that Works is bad… not at all. It’s just that it’s my least favorite of Hiromix’s excellent run of books, beginning with Girls Blue (1996) and continuing through Hikari (1997), Japanese Beauty (1997), Hiromix (Steidl, 1998), and… Ooo… I spoke too soon. smh. Hiromix Paris (1998) is on its way to me from Japan, God willing. Anyway. Works is the last in the run, and the belly band proclaims to be “HIROMIX’s the best selection for 5 years!” which I suspect is a slightly inaccurate translation, given that it seems to be a “best of” collection of her commercial portraiture.
The belly band provides a seemingly breathless list of participants, and there are brief bios of each, in Japanese, at the back of the book. I pointed the Google Translate app at the belly band and it spat out the following, about which I make no claims to accuracy, though I did recognize a few of the people straight away.
A handful of Hiromix’s more typical city scenes and random land- of sky-scapes are scattered throughout, and the book might’ve benefited from more of these to suggest something of a narrative, a night out or party or something. That said, many of the portraits are obvious, studio-type things that wouldn’t really play nice with such a (false) narrative…. Gah. Looking again, I’ve confused Works with some portions of Japanese Beauty, I think. There are studio images: in particular, a couple of images of shoes, and some of kids in strange costumes. But the majority seem to be just hanging out sorts of pictures; Hiromix with her friends again, but this time with Aphex Twin, Marilyn Manson, and the Beastie Boys alongside a bunch of probably eye-wateringly famous Japanese. And, really, Works can be read as a sort of extended night out, one that runs fairly continuously from late 1995 through 1999.
Hiromix scatters a few selfies throughout, at least one per year, plus a nice winking while brushing teeth at the end, just after dedicating the book to Takashi Homma and Nobuyoshi Araki. The back-matter of the book also includes an set of thoughts from Hiromix in Japanese, and of which the Google Translate app hasn’t made any sense; a list of participants and profession (sometimes), location, Agency, and notes on where the image appeared; and this sort of ouroboros depicting, I guess, Hiromix’s thoughts on photography and its purposes:
All in all, after flipping through Works again, I revise my earlier claim. The book probably really can stand adjacent to Moriyama’s “Woman…,” though the latter probably still outshines it. After all, for my money—and it was a substantial and repentance-requiring expense—the 5 books in the series make up a sort of summation of Moriyama’s work and certainly the best and most comprehensive overview I’ve seen.
Works is similar in that it features Hiromix’s inimitable style and her subject matter, put overtop of a bunch of famous people, many of which appear to be having a grand old time. And where the Moriyama series will run you better than $400, decent copies of Works run about $80 (albeit without the belly band), and it’s money well spent, really, unlike, perhaps, the Moriyama book since it’s arguable that all his pictures look the same…. I kid. Moriyama definitely has a style, and one that I sorta got really tired of, and then found my way back to. But Hiromix also has a style, and one with which I’ve been completely enamored for close to 20 years now.
Works isn’t Hiromix’s best, certainly. For that, see the Steidl book, which, at the time of writing, can be had for not much more than can Works. But work in Steidl stops in 1998, and Works has work through 1999 and includes a few of her super iconic pictures, one of which—the ice cream cone one—I had never actually seen before (and which doesn’t tickle my fancy to the extent it did for that Japanese reviewer back in 1995 or 96). All that to say: Works is a good one, and worth your time if you have any interest in varieties of portraiture or ways of presenting retrospective-type books. It’s going to sit proudly with the others on my shelves, for sure.