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We Have No Place to Be 1980–1982: Reviewed by John Sypal


Book Review We Have No Place to Be 1980–1982 Photographs by Joji Hashiguchi Reviewed by John Sypal "In the early 1980s, Joji Hashiguchi photographed young men and women congregating in the places where youth go to find refuge from the world..."

https://www.photoeye.com/bookstore/citation.cfm?catalog=ZJ021
We Have No Place to Be 1980–1982  
Photographs by Joji Hashiguchi

Session Press, New York, NY, 2020. In English and Japanese. 
256 pp., black-and-white illustrations, 8¼x11½".

In the early 1980s, Joji Hashiguchi photographed young men and women congregating in the places where youth go to find refuge from the world. He found them in rough cafes, scuzzy bus stops, and on battered street corners. Working within the tradition of street and documentary photography, his black and white pictures capture the universality of youth in moments of uncertainty and dissatisfaction. Among them appear those bright (yet fleeting) moments between friends when a sense of togetherness appears — they realize they aren’t so alone, despite their drive to be.

Whether shot in New York, London or West Berlin, the locations of these pictures begin to blend together. These are all public somewheres but mental nowheres, bleak spots which were created as points of transit or for a quick cup of coffee. They’re precisely the sorts of places that young people gravitate towards; places where time is all you need. Time and each other are all they have — and at that age, it seems like all there will ever be.

©Joji Hashiguchi, We Have No Place to Be 1980–1982, Tokyo.
©Joji Hashiguchi, We Have No Place to Be 1980–1982, Liverpool.

Perhaps the most striking element of these images is how the same face is revealed over and over, sometimes within the same photograph. In his lens, Hashiguchi caught the disaffected youth of the late twentieth century — their sense of defiance, of boredom, fear, as well as an undertone of possible violence. The face we repeatedly encounter, even with a smile, is blanketed in a shadow of sadness. Unease, vulnerability and loneliness are masked through loud antics and drug use. Hashiguchi shows us both comradery, created through tribal codes of fashion, and the youthful thrill of toying with nihilism against the impossibility of setting forward into society… One can’t help but wonder where all these kids are now.

We have no place to be.

And yet, one truth of life is that everyone is somewhere, all the time. There’s nowhere else to be but where you are. Through Hashiguchi’s camera the churning impatience and brevity of youth which his subjects express has existed forever.

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©Joji Hashiguchi, We Have No Place to Be 1980–1982.
©Joji Hashiguchi, We Have No Place to Be 1980–1982, Tokyo.

John Sypal is a photographer living in Tokyo. In addition to regularly exhibiting work at Totem Pole Photo Gallery he offers views on the city's photography culture through Tokyo Camera Style on his website and Instagram.

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