“This reissue of Masahisa Fukase’s 1986 classic Ravens brings back before an Anglophone public one of the great Japanese photo books.”
Featured in New York Times’ Best Photo Books of 2017.
In Japanese mythology, ravens are forerunners and fragmented presences of dangerous and dark times. Ravens by Fukase is an uncanny series of work crafted between 1975 and 1986, in the corollary of a divorce. This compilation of photographs in this book was ostensibly triggered during a dolorous train journey of Fukase, to his hometown.
The photographs shown in the book vary regarding the subject matter as well as technique. It adheres to only to a general core beauty of prosaic, contrasting black and white. They also reflect to a greater extent, the influence of the “Provoke” era of Japanese artistic photography.
Ravens is not just the empirical anhedonia and apprehension that Fukase had suffered throughout his life. It’s also his manifesto of artistic self-identification with the raven, and it’s solitary existence that was beautifully captured and compiled on the edge of madness.
Some photos appear to engage prevalent printing techniques, while the others have incorporated Fukase’s technique to eliminate unwanted or distracting objects, which is enlargement of a tiny portion of the negative to emphasize the grain. The enlarged photos show luminous, glowing outlines and burning halos that can be compared to Mackie Lines.
This accretion of praise and the passing of time, have dimmed much of the charismatic details that showcase the artist’s obsession with this mournful and depressing theme throughout his work.