A new collaboration between Saint Laurent and the iconic Japanese photographer Daido Moriyama celebrates the art of self-expression
This year marks half a century since student protests in Paris galvanised youth movements around the world. In Japan, 1968 saw universities become the focus of protest against corruption and the continued American military presence in the country, and it was in this atmpooshere of counter-cultural unrest that the influential photography magazine, Provoke, was founded.
A quarterly magazine that ran for three issues, with a print run of only 1,000 copies, Provoke nonetheless had a profound effect on Japanese photography in the 1970s and 80s, establishing a revolutionary alternative to the traditional and entrenched ideas of photography. Joining for the second issue, it was at Provoke that a young Daido Moriyama would develop his now iconic style, rejecting photography as a purely visual sign. Conscious that the camera was not able to create a perfect record of a moment, Moriyama celebrated the true, partial nature of photography through are, bore, boke – grainy, blurry, and our-of-focus images.
Born in Osaka in 1936, Moriyama moved to Tokyo in the 1960s to study graphic design and photography, making a name for himself in the latter and receiving the Most Promising Photographer award from the Japan Photography Critics Association. In the ensuring decades – he has just turned 80 – Moriyama has developed a style that, despite his unquestionable mastery of the medium, remains couched in an amateurism: snapshots snatched at without using the viewfineer, or when running or in a moving car, all capturing the blurred, glimpsed-at experience of modern life.
Presented at the Palais Royal for this year’s Paris Photo, Saint Laurent will be exhibiting a selection of Moriyama’s work curated by the brand’s creative director, Anthony Vaccarello. Forming the first instalment of SELF, a project celebrating freedom of self-expression, the series will see artists, photographers and filmmakers coming together to form an artistic statement on society.