Tokyo is an exhibition catalog from ‘Tokyo: Daido Moriyama, Shomei Tomatsu,’ which ran at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie (MEP), Paris, November 11, 2020 through February 28, 2021. I wasn’t in Paris at the time, and bought this from publisher Akio Nagasawa, and I very much hope it’s the last Moriyama book on my to-review shelves….*
Be aware: there are a few NSFW photographs in the catalog. Apologies: You’ll need to click through to view the unboxing.
I don’t wholly regret picking up a copy of Tokyo. Copies of Tomatsu’s books from the 1960s-1980s are scarce and expensive, and while Chewing Gum & Chocolate saw several reprints, others are long out of print and it’s nice to see even a small selection of other work.
My favorite part of the catalog is probably the volume of texts, which includes an introduction from MEP director Simon Baker and statements from both photographers, written in 1970, 1972, 1997, and 2007 (Moriyama) and 1976, 1987, and 1999 (Tomatsu). It’s interesting to see how their thoughts changed over the years, or not, and to compare their thoughts to those from, say, Stephen Shore over the same period. (Short answer: they’re all pretty much thinking the same sorts of things, and just expressing and working through their thoughts in idiosyncratic ways.)
The catalog contains three volumes: the text one, and one each for Moriyama and Tomatsu. I might’ve liked to see everything in one volume, with images from the photographers carrying on a conversation. Instead, the volumes sort of function as a greatest hits album for the two, with works made in Tokyo over 40 or so years. (Images from Moriyama are undated, but I recognize many from the Pocket 55s book; Tomatsu’s pictures were made between 1954 and 1981, with the vast majority coming in the 50s and 60s, most of which I hadn’t seen before.)
So, short answer, it’s a nice introduction to Tomatsu and Moriyama, if nothing else.
The only place the catalog falls down, in my opinion, is in the binding of the two image volumes. Tomatsu’s book is ever-so-slightly wider than Moriyama’s: the cover overhangs the pages by a millimeter or so. This gives Tomatsu’s book a somewhat more finished and quality feel. Tomatsu’s images also have some white space, titles, and etc. Moriyama’s book is pretty much a smaller version of one of his Record zines, all glossy and printed full bleed.
Overall, I rate Tokyo a not-quite-recommended 4 stars.
Tokyo remains available direct from the publisher, and in pulling that link I discovered a second version, produced for the exhibition when it ran in Rome. Tokyo: Revisited includes some additional images and costs the same, and I won’t be buying a copy. Both are cheap-ish and maybe worth if you need a rather overly-specific overview of both photographers and their work.
*There’s one more… smh. It’s not really a photobook, though. It’s more of a how-to thing. Still….