Yoshi Kametani, I’ll Be Late

JTF (just the facts): Published in 2024 by Void Publishing (here). Open spine softcover (16,8 x 24 cm), 168 pages, with 106 color photographs. In an edition of 350 copies. (Cover and spread shots below.)

Comments/Context: Yoshi Kametani is an American artist currently based in Athens, whose artistic practice “largely reflects on time, destruction, chaos and mortality.” Over the years, he has published a number of photobooks, both in collaboration and on his own. One of his earlier books was published in collaboration with the artist Tamara Kametani, under the name IPG Project. Titled Sumimasen, it questioned the concept of privacy and identity through Mayura, a pornographic actress living in Tokyo (reviewed here). His other titles include Classon (2015), a collaboration with Daisuke Yokota, featuring photographs of New York brought into conversation. Kametani’s new photobook, published by Void, an independent publishing house based in Greece, is titled I’ll Be Late and “ponders the existential anxieties of life and death.”

As an object, I’ll Be Late, a softcover book with an open spine, immediately feels good. A medium sized black-and-white image appears on the cover, slightly off center, and the title (in handwriting) and the artist’s name as well as its biblio information are placed on the cover around and over the photograph. All the images are vertically-oriented and have a thin white border around them. They are printed on recycled paper that contains visible particles, adding to the overall textural feel. The book easily lays flat, making the interaction even more enjoyable.

Kametani notes that the publication of I’ll Be Late marks, more or less, his midlife, leading to questions of mortality and passing time in general. All of the photographs in the book were taken inside, and capture various intimate moments between friends and their environment during the time period he lived in Brixton, in London. His photographs of friends are mostly fragmented and abstract. One of the first images is a close up face of a man – the right eye, part of a nose, and the top of a black cap. In other shots, we see a person whose long dark hair covers their face, an arm flexing muscles, a woman’s back with a tattoo, two pairs of feet under a leopard blanket, etc. These shots of people are mixed with more mundane moments of everyday life, with subtle formal echoes. There are ashtrays with cigarettes, shots of various flowers, Tarot cards, fruits, piles of dirty dishes, a stack of scratched lottery tickets, etc. 

In the book, the photographs seem to be arranged in non-linear order, yet the movement of time is noticeable. The book opens with a number of pages printed on a lighter paper. These spreads alternate between packed eight images and full spread shots, but all of them seem slightly wrinkled, abstract and experimental. This section is followed by a repeated cover (this time with a different image). From here, we move to the main visual narrative and one of the first spreads pairs a photo of a cigarette pinned in an ashtray with a close up shot of wrinkled bed sheets; and in a way both of them relate to passage of time. A shot of a messy laundry room with the washing machine door open, wires on the ground, and clothes hanging to dry is paired with a shot of a woman, photographed from the back as her wet hair falls down her nude back. Page after page, Kametani’s photographs reference time. Some explicitly, like multiple shots of Rolex watches, others, like in case of decaying flowers or food items, are more settled. One spread pairs a shot of four pairs of watches with a bouquet of wilted roses in a glass jar. 

The printing process was particularly important for this project. Kametani’s meticulous four-layer screen-printing process deconstructs and reconstructs the photographs, and through this process, he highlights the merciless passage of time and “the transformation from harmony to chaos within the natural cycle of entropy”. The images have visible texture and look grainy, further amplified by the paper used for the book. The repeated layering of colors and their offset variations are also visible. Kametani notes, “the time I spent on creating the work also informed my thoughts on the subject”. A number of images appear numerous times throughout the book, yet with certain variations in color or tint, like iterations or constantly changing unstable versions. A shot of a burning cigarette is one of them, and we see it again and again, with the change of colors emphasizing the passage of time; it is also the final image in the book.

The very last section is the book, printed on lighter paper, includes reflections by the artist on passage of time and life. A fragment of it reads “Time is money / And money is time / Yup. Rolex, an object which embodies them both. And yet we consider this devil’s jewelry timeless.” The section ends with “And don’t wait up. I’ll be late”, referencing the title of the book.

In the end, I’ll Be Late is a modest yet thoughtfully produced publication. It does not answer any questions, and rather offers the artist’s reflections on the journey of life and our experience of reality and time. Its success lies in balancing the personal with the universal, evoking themes we can all relate to.

Collector’s POV: Yoshi Kametani does not appear to have consistent gallery representation at this time. As a result, interested collectors should likely follow up directly with the artist via her webpage (linked in the sidebar).

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