Book of the Week Book of the Week: A Pick by Forrest Soper Forrest Soper selects Pantomime by Daido Moriyama as Book of the Week.
"Daido Moriyama is without a doubt one of the most prolific and influential Japanese photographers alive today. Now at seventy-eight years of age, Moriyama has created an exhaustingly massive catalogue full of work created in over half a century of photographing. His work is so abundant that even the most avid collectors have difficulties amassing a complete library of his publications. To those who have not spent a lifetime following the artist’s work, it may seem daunting to figure out where to begin — but like all legendary artists, Moriyama’s career had to start somewhere.
Enter Pantomime, this publication is a collection of the first photographic series Moriyama ever made as a freelance photographer. After being inspired by a biology textbook illustration of human and animal embryos, Moriyama sought to photograph the inside of a gynecological institution near the Tanzawa Mountains. There he found a collection of embryos and fetuses of various stages of development preserved in formaldehyde. Over the next three days, Moriyama spent hours photographing these specimens both in their original glass containers and in a more controlled studio environment. The resulting images are dark, disturbing, intriguing, intimate, and compelling. As you flip through the thin pages of the volume you are torn between an instinctual aversion and a curious fascination. The images haunt you with their silence, and are impossible to ignore. While a selection of these photographs were published in Moriyama’s very first photobook, many of the images are published here for the first time.
Despite the beautiful artwork found inside Pantomime, the images are not the primary reason why I recommend this book. In an afterword, Moriyama explains not only his memory of creating this series, but also what the work means to him now over fifty years later. This book not only documents the beginning of life, but also the beginning of one of the most accomplished photographic careers in modern history. If this wasn’t enough, he makes a powerful statement about memory, humanity, hopelessness, innocence and the passage of time. This book seamlessly combines the ingenuity and experimentation found in emerging photographers with the wisdom and knowledge gained from a lifetime of photographing. Pantomime serves as the perfect introduction to Daido Moriyama’s work, whether you have been following him for years, or if you have never seen his photographs before." — Forrest Soper
Forrest Soper is a photographer and artist based out of Santa Fe, New Mexico. A graduate of the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, he also has previously worked at Bostick & Sullivan. Forrest is the Editor of photo-eye Blog.