Masahisa Fukase – Ravens

MACK Books 2017. Contributors: Akira Hasegawa, Tomo Kosuga. English, jap. 148 pages, 100 ill. (80 col. and 20 b/w). 26.3 x 26.3 cm. 1,2 kg. Cloth in slipcase. 9781910164839. art-15428
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Consistently proclaimed as one of the most important photobooks in the history of the medium, Ravens by Japanese photographer Masahisa Fukase was first published in 1986 and the two subsequent editions were both short print runs that sold out immediately. This bilingual facsimile of the first edition contains a new text by founder of the Masahisa Fukase Archives, Tomo Kosuga. His essay locates Ravens in Fukase’s wider work and life, and is illustrated with numerous recently discovered photographs and drawings.

Fukase’s haunting series of work was made between 1975 and 1986 in the aftermath of a divorce and was apparently triggered by a mournful train journey to his hometown. The coastal landscapes of Hokkaido serve as the backdrop for his profoundly dark and impressionistic photographs of ominous flocks of crows. The work has been interpreted as an ominous allegory for postwar Japan.

"Ravens is one of the defining bodies of work in the history of photography and a high point in the photo book genre. This accumulation of accolades, and the passing of time, have obscured much of the fascinating detail which explains the artist’s pre-occupation with this motif throughout his work. It was not simply a reflection of the existential angst and anhedonia he suffered throughout his life but manifested in artistic self-identification with the raven and ultimately spiralled into a solitary existence and artistic practice on the edge of madness. And all this before an untimely accident in 1992, a fall down the stairs of his favourite bar, resulted in him spending the final twenty years before his death with his consciousness suspended and in medical isolation. Fukase became the singular raven frozen by his camera and immortalized on the cover of his most famous book."

Tomo Kosuga
from his essay Cries of Solitude [2017]
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