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Takuma Nakahira Essays Online

Takuma NAKAHIRA. Born in Tokyo, 1938. Graduated from the Spanish Department of the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. Entered a publishing company where he worked for the magazine, Contemporary Eye. From the mid-1960s, began publishing many essays on photography and film in various magazines and around the same time started taking photographs. Co-founded a quarterly coterie magazine for photography, Provoke, subtitled “Provocative Materials for Thought” with Koji Taki, Yutaka Takanashi, and Takahiko Okada (Daido Moriyama contributed to the second and third issues). Provoke’s grainy, blurry and unfocused photographs moved away from established aesthetics and conventions to make a strong impact on the photographic scene in Japan at that time. After the publication of For a Language to Come, in the title essay of the 1973 collection of his writings, Why an Illustrated Botanical Dictionary? he critically reexamined his previous photographs. Immediately after the publication of the seminal book, Duel on Photography, which coupled Nakahira’s essays together with photographs by Kishin Shinoyama, Nakahira succumbed to an illness in November 1977 that brought him near death. Though he was tormented with memory loss and aphasia, Nakahira gradually recovered and started taking photographs once more. In the 1980s, he published two photobooks of his works after 1978, A New Gaze and Adieu à X, and later, Hysteric Six Nakahira Takuma in 2002. In 2003 the large-scale retrospective, “Nakahira Takuma: Degree Zero –Yokohama” at the Yokohama Museum of Art was held with more than 800 photographs from his formative period to 2003 and his work received renewed attention. Nakahira had solo exhibitions at Shougoarts, Tokyo in 2004 and 2007 and participated in many group exhibitions in Japan and abroad. Two films on Nakahira, directed by Takashi Homma and Masashi Kohara were made. In 2007, a collection of more than fifty of Nakahira’s essays up to 1977 was published. Nakahira now lives and works in Yokohama.

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Three

Essays

by Nakahira

Takuma

Tlanslated by Franz

K.

Prichard

Has

Photography

Been

Able to

Provoke

Language?

I

prerriously u,rote the

follou'rng

about image and

langua-9e:

At

one

time

it

u,as

declarcd

thiit

ima-9es

had

an

independcnt

r.r-reaning

itr

thernselves opposed

to

languagc, and a

'ianguage

of

images'

w'as

spokenabout

as

though

it

wele

real. Yet,

these

notiotrs

are

sutely

mistaken.

h-r.rages

haunt language

likc

a

shaclor'v,

they line

language and

give

it

substance,

and

in

some

cases,

they bring aboul

the

erpansion

of

langr-rage. I

This

over zealous nfanner

of

speech

may anlount

toprctcntiousness

ho-,l,eveL.

ny

thinking

basrcally

remains

uncl.ranged

cvell

toda,v.

In

fact,

at

the

tiilc

I

r'vrote

that

essay,

I

hacl

iust

published thccoterie

r.uagazine Prot,olce

thzrt

rny

fbur

associates and

I

presumptuouslysubtitled Provocativc Materials for

Thor-rght.

I

was

overly

concernedthat the

r,vorcl

thorLght

had

too much

of

a

politrcal

or

philosophical

rcsonance and

argr-red

that

it

should

be

replaced by the more precise

phrase

languiige

as

thought.

In

nearly

two

years, have the photographs presented

in

Provoke

been able

ro

reviv,e

languagc

in

the

cnd'J

Regrettably,

n-ly

answer to

this

questior.r

rvould

harre

to

be

rather negative. However,

first

I

n.rust

clarily

prccisely what

I

r.neant

by the

language and image

I

algucd

should

berevivdel.

This

question

has

returttecl

to conft'otlt llre

ulce

again.

What cxactly

are

these hordcs

of

words packed together

like

sardines and

tightly

linccl

up inside

drctionaries?

Whilc

it

is

clear that thisis

a

ianguage

culled

and recognizecl by

history

as

thc minimr-rn level

of

nniversal symbols, we cannot

natut'irllv

accept

it

as a

lived

lan-quage

right

offthe

bat. I don't know whcn, but

a

strange

delusion

has

taken upresidence

in

son'ie

corner of my

briiin

that I

cannot

shake

fiec.

I inlaginc

that once the

dictionary

has

beer-r

lelt

closed up on

nly

desk,

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