Soul and Soul 1969-1999
At first sight, it's an old, dirty book: stained and battered, with an almost
greasy feel. But in fact this is not a second-hand book from a garage
sale, or bought on eBay. This is a new book, designed and printed with
the idea to make it look like this.
Why would a publisher create and publish
such an item? Because, more than just a book, we are talking about the book itself as an object of art, something that will become a collector's item.
The book Soul and Soul, published by Noorderlicht's Aurora
Borealis, recreates (partly) the original dummy of the book Soul and Soul that was self-published in 1972 by the photographer, Kiyoshi Suzuki.
Machiel Botman was working on an exhibition of Suzuki's work for Noorderlicht's
photo gallery, when he came across the
original hand-made mock-up of Soul and Soul in the photographer's garage.
Suzuki was a Japanese photographer, (1943 - 2000), who was
very much part of the 60's generation of photographers who explored the visual
capabilities of the book medium to their extremes. The way the images appeared on a printed page was
what interested Suzuki. For this photographer, the photo book was the
ultimate way to show his work, and in order to create the book that he
envisioned, he worked on the dummy almost endlessly, until he arrived
at what he felt was the best proposition for his work.
This is what Botman and Suzuki's wife found while searching the garage —
an old stained, greasy dummy, with notes, annotations, lines drawn with
a pencil to indicate the exact size that the book should be. And this
is what Aurora Borealis recreated. The result is not an exact reprint
of the dummy but it aims to show an overview of Suzuki's work until his
death in 2000. It is surely interesting to see the span of Suzuki's
work, and to try an discern the development he went through. But it also inevitably
means the book stays somewhat on the surface, and does not really go deep
into the work.
There is only a small amount of text, not printed in the book, but printed
in a small booklet that comes together with the publication. On a design
level this is wonderful: a book without text, making it the book as it
was initially conceived. Too often texts come in as essential but never
really as an integral part of the design. The images therefore work only
with each other and don't get distracted by text blocks. On the other
hand, a more theoretic overview or interpretation of Suzuki's work and
influence could give this work an extra value.
Soul and Soul is a courageous book: the work of Suzuki was without doubt
far ahead of its time, and it is a privilege to see a dummy, a work in progress
by one of the photographic masters of our time. But because it is presented
this way, this is not a photo book for a large public. This is a designer's
book for designers, a photographer's book for photographers, and almost
an historical document for anyone interested in the history of (Japanese)
photography and bookmaking. A must-buy for anyone interested in book-publishing.
If you can find it that is: the first edition is sold-out, the second
edition almost: you may soon need to look for it on eBay....
— Marc Prüst
Photography agent / curator, Paris
Soul and Soul 1969-1999
by Kiyoshi Suzuki
Paperback: 76 pages
24 x 29 cm
Publisher: Aurora Borealis/Noorderlicht
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