CHILDHOOD by Osamu Wataya [HARDCOVER]
Official Press Release:
The four sections that comprise this book are seemingly unrelated- without any ties by place, time, or subject. Nonetheless, they allow the viewer to realize that each photograph subtly and intricately resonates against one another. Since a certain point in time, Osamu Wataya has resigned from pursuing the singularity and purity of photography, and instead has directly acknowledged the idea that immaturity and lightness, as well as humor and nostalgia, are important factors for photography. Each and every photograph resonates in harmony with the other images, filling the world with a myriad of tones. Perhaps it is those tones that represent “oneself” at the same time as representing the world.
“CHILDHOOD” shows no trace of the notion of “me-photography-the world” firmly rooted in the linear thinking of Modernism in photography. However, in the process of creating this book, Wataya’s sixth one, he was most likely faced with frustration towards the overpowering curse that the school of thought bears. Throughout his career, Wataya has explored photography through the eyes of an editor in addition to being a talented photographer himself. Both roles have required him to critically confront Modernism in Japanese post-war photography as well as publish numerous books of photographers who have struggled to overcome it. Through his work with these photographers, it is without a doubt that Wataya fully experienced just how deeply rooted and entrenched Modernism is. This however, most likely reached a limit within himself.
Most of the photographs in this book, from the “Amsterdam” series taken at the beginning of Wataya’s career to his most recent ones in the “Capability” series, have never been presented before. According to Wataya, this was simply a result of reviewing all of his works, regardless of whether they had been seen before or not. There is no attempt here by Wataya to convey an autobiographical narrative that describes his career as a photographer, nor is there a problem consciousness related to contemporary theory. There is no way for us to tell what kinds of emotions were evoked within the artist. However, what remains certain is that “CHILDHOOD” is not a simple retrospective of the past but a perpetual aspiration to encounter an unknown past that extends far beyond.
Like death, childhood is something that lies external to our experiences. Nevertheless, when looking at Wataya’s photographs, one can experience an overflowing consciousness that doesn’t hold any memories of childhood. Wataya’s vulnerable senses capture images of donkeys and the canals of Amsterdam, a little house by the Sea of Okhotsk, glaciers, a Ukrainian boy and cat, a man who is peering at a woman’s hips, foreign lands and hometowns, and the past and present, all of which subtly reverberate against one another and come together for just this one time.