Earlier this year the International Center of Photography’s Library received a generous donation of several books by Dutch photographer, curator and bookmaker Machiel Botman and his New York gallerist Tom Gitterman. In addition to the beautiful monographs of Botman’s highly personal and emotional work was a 2008 retrospective catalogue for Kiyoshi Suzuki: Soul and Soul: 1969-1999, a show that Botman guest curated at the Noorderlict Photogallery in Groningen, The Netherlands. Marginally known in the west at the time of this Dutch retrospective, Japanese photographer Kiyoshi Suzuki, who died in 2000 at the age of 57, is often grouped as a member of the postwar Kompora(contemporary) photography movement. Upon the closer inspection afforded by Botman’s exceptionally well-conceived show and catalogue, Suzuki proves to be a refreshingly unique and multi-layered photographer who defies such an easy classification. With an unflinching commitment to a distinctly personal cinematic visual aesthetic, Suzuki who supported his art and family through his job as a commercial sign painter and photography teacher at the Tokyo College of Photography, is all about time. But not a time that mimics film, rather a time that takes film as a jumping board as it mines a space distinctive to photography and its considered placement in the sequencing of a photobook. Influenced by his longtime friend, American photographer and filmmaker Robert Frank, Suzuki is a master of “process” and the unfolding of a slow and expanded narrativity grounded both in the real and the dream-like. As Botman’s respective catalogue so beautifully illustrates, it is the path traveled as much as the end result that shapes Suzuki’s thoughtful balance of word and image in the eight mostly self-published books he produced between 1972 and 1998.
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