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Book of the Week: A Pick by Sarah Bradley

Book of the Week Book of the Week: A Pick by Sarah Bradley Sarah Bradley selects Motsure Hotsure Tsumugu by Marco van Duyvendijk as Book of the Week.

Motsure Hotsure Tsumugu. By Marco van Duyvendijk. 
Self-published, 2016.
Sarah Bradley selects Motsure Hotsure Tsumugu self-published by Marco van Duyvendijk as Book of the Week.
"Motsure Hotsure Tsumugu (translating to tangle fray spun) opens with black and white and color images of the sub-tropical Japanese island of Amami Oshima. Hundreds of thousands of fine handmade silk kimono were once made here, but demand for these formal garments has sharply fallen in recent decades. A small number of highly skilled craftsmen continue the practice. Marco van Duyvendijk’s photographs capture the exceptional process of coloring temporarily woven silk thread with a natural dye made of mud and plum tree and a weaving method requiring mind-boggling precision. His images display more concern with the making of a beautiful photograph than straightforward documentation, yet the theme of process is central, reestablished in sequences of Haruka, van Duyvendijk’s translator and collaborator on this project, being carefully wrapped and arranged in kimono, the wearing of which also requires knowledge and precision. Understated portraits of Haruka appear throughout the book and are simple yet effective. Laying in the sand and modeling a variety of kimonos, she looks into the lens with a calming stillness that both sets and describes the tone of the book, the other photographs seeming to mimic her demeanor of quite interest. Close-ups revel the delicate beauty hidden in the cloth of her garments; texture, color and pattern.

The book is thoughtfully and simply designed, the cover textured with the warp and weft of fabric, a subtle blind-stamped design. Two smaller booklets are stitched into the folded edges of the covers, the first containing text explaining what drew van Duyvendijk to the project and the happenstance that caused it to be realized, followed by texts that explain the garment-making process and short interviews with fabric dyers and weavers. The second booklet features reproductions of paintings by Haruka made with that special mud and plum tree dye. It lives in the end pages of the book like a special personal keep-sake.

My home is relatively sparse, with the exceptions of my bookshelves and closets. I hadn’t considered the potential of similarity in my affection for books and textiles before encountering Motsure Hotsure Tsumugu. van Duyvendijk likens his analogue photographic practice to the old techniques used by these crafts-people, nothing the time required of such dedication to process. For me, though, Motsure Hotsure Tsumugu brings to light the power of precise and methodical craftsmanship. When done right it is work that is nearly invisible but fundamental to the outcome, be that the fine texture of a garment or the subtle flow of a photobook." —Sarah Bradley

Purchase Book

Motsure Hotsure Tsumugu. By Marco van Duyvendijk. Self-published, 2016.
Motsure Hotsure Tsumugu. By Marco van Duyvendijk. Self-published, 2016.
photo by Brandon Soder

Sarah Bradley is a writer, sculptor and until recently, the Editor of photo-eye Blog. She recently worked with Meow Wolf on the exhibition The House of Eternal Return.

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