Contemporary Japanese Photobooks


If you like photography, there are a few thousand pictures for you to sort through in this exhibition.

Recently reopened, The Photographers' Gallery has put on display a collection of Japanese photobooks, all done in the last ten years or so. Photobooks are something of a feature of Japanese photography, and most photographers have released a few.

The books at the gallery cover a wide variety of subjects, but avoid the pictures of celebrities and porn starlets that are the most popular subjects in Japan. Even so, the low-brow is well represented here. For example, there is a book of llamas playing dress up, and another book dedicated to the baby monkey that rides the little pig that recently became a meme.

There is a lot to se here, as each of the two hundred books on display contains an exhibition's worth of photographs. It's a kind of Borgesian exercise in creating an infinite museum. However, the curators have been lazy and don't provide much guidance for the books overall. Furthermore, they and rely exclusively on each books' own explanatory text to introduce the individual artists.

Too much is left up to the visitor, thereby extending the logic of the supermarket self-checkout to the gallery. In addition to your day job, and your unpaid internship working your own till at Sainsbury's, you can now be a part-time curator. If you are really expected to self-curate the exhibition, why not just stay home and play with your tumblr? This photobook exhibition actually has one of its own, so you might as well add that.

Contemporary Japanese Photobooks are at The Photographers' Gallery until the 9th of September.

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