JTF (just the facts): A large format, tabloid style booklet, published by Osiris in 2007. Produced in conjunction with an exhibit at the Port Gallery in Osaka. 16 pages, with 15 black and white images. (Poor cover shot at right.)
Comments/Context: If the name Osamu Kanemura is familiar to collectors in the United States, it is likely due to his inclusion in the New Photo exhibit (number 12) at the MoMA in 1996. We actually became aware of Kanemura much later, with the introduction of his body of work known as Spider’s Strategy several years ago (we saw the exhibition at Cohen Amador and bought the book for our library). This thin pamphlet brings us up to speed with what he has been working on lately, and it seems to be a direct extension and continuation of the ideas that underlay Spider’s Strategy.
The most obvious and common stereotype about Tokyo is that it is an overcrowded, chaotic mess. Kanemura has pointed his camera at this complexity and selected densely fragmented slices of the environment around him. His images recall some of Lee Friedlander’s work, packed with information and overlapping patterns, reduced to a two dimensional cluster of interlaced electric wires, buildings, bicycles, and shop billboards. The pictures are often bewildering in their richness, provoking the same wide eyed visual overload of the new visitor to the city.
While there are often random pedestrians in his images, Kanemura’s work doesn’t seem to be about any particular narrative, but about the complexities of this built environment and the social relationships that have emerged out of the closeness. The images are dark, and often claustrophobic, with nets of wires, street signs, and blinking lights falling down from the nearly obliterated sky. While there are only a small number of works in this booklet, his unique view of the city comes through hauntingly.
Collector’s POV: Truth be told, we have been thinking about adding a Kanemura to our collection since we saw the original Spider’s Strategy show, and every time we visit Cohen Amador (Kanemura’s gallery in New York, site here), we are reminded of just how much we would like to add one of his images to our city scene genre. While the retail prices are reasonable (I believe they are around $3000 each, in editions of 5), we just haven’t gotten focused enough on any single image to get to the finish line. There is no secondary market for his work at the moment. So going forward, we’ll need to do some more legwork and look at some more images to find a representative picture that jumps out at us, full of crazy intersecting wires.