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* Yukichi WATABE "A Criminal Investigation" 2011 Photobook


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Yukichi WATABE, photographer. “A Criminal Investigation.” Netherlands: Editions Xavier Barral/Le Bal, 2011, Second Printing (2012), HB, Japanese style binding, 29 cm x 21 cm, 100 pp, 70 b/w photos.

"On 14 January 1958, the disfigured and amputated body of a man was discovered near Lake Sembako in Japan. Two investigators from Tokyo came to help out the local police in order to resolve what at first appeared to be a banal case, but which proved to be more complex. For the first time, a photographer was authorized to accompany the police to document the investigation. Watabe followed the inspector as he questioned witnesses (workers in a tannery factory, local police officers etc.) and pounded the streets of the most insalubrious neighborhoods in Tokyo – its bars, bridges, alleyways and hospitals – in search of the killer. Watabe’s images record much more than simply a police investigation, they reveal Tokyo in the 1950s in a way that has rarely been shown."--publisher

"As its title suggests, Yukichi Watabe’s A Criminal Investigation focuses on a particularly gruesome and mysterious murder committed in Japan in the late 1950s... The grisly circumstances led local police to form a special unit to investigate the crime, and Watabe, a freelance photojournalist at the time, managed to arrange special access to document the investigation in its entirety. Half a century later, Watabe’s stunning series of black-and-white images have emerged as an almost impossibly perfect photo book, one that’s deservedly included on several of the year’s notable best-of lists... Despite having a stronger narrative quality than most contemporary photo books, there is no real beginning or end to A Criminal Investigation; we never see the body of the victim and there are no pictures of the killer. If anything, this makes the book even stronger... The success of the book is that it turns a failed murder investigation into something so engrossing. The photographs of this hard-nosed detective pursuing different leads and running into as many dead ends are fascinating in themselves, leaving the reader to imagine the details of the story taking place amidst the photos’ perfect film noir atmosphere. The design and production of the book complement the source material beautifully. The rough linen cover and black elastic ribbon that holds the cover in place give the object the feel of a case file. The lightweight, warm-tinted newsprint-style paper and typewriter font also echo the feel of the period, and imagine the form these photographs may have taken had they been published in the 1950s. The greatest strength of the book, though, is its remarkable noir atmosphere. The work so powerfully conjures the look of film stills that at times, it is hard to believe that such dramatically composed shots could have been taken in a traditional documentary photography setting. Whether they were genuinely captured on the fly or staged for the camera is almost irrelevant; as in all investigations, the narrative depends on the investigator to piece together the parts of the story. That we, the readers, get to play along in this atmospheric world with our own 'investigation of the investigation' is the book’s most rewarding surprise.''--American Photo

Selected as one of the Best Books of 2011 by Raymond Meeks, Horacio Fernández, Alec Soth, Darius Himes, John Gossage, Marco Delogu.

Reference: Parr & Badger, The Photobook: A History, Volume 3

Condition: Very Good.

Shipping costs: Checkout settings are for International airmail "small packet" (available for packages up to 2 kg), delivery estimated at 5-8 days - $20.85. Two other shipping options are also available: Economy airmail shipping SAL (surface/air), delivery estimated at 2-3 weeks - $11.80; and International EMS (express mail service), delivery estimated within 2-4 days - $28.00 (USA), $32.50 (Europe). Shipping weight: approx. 1050g.