Takashi Homma. TOKYO SUBURBIA. Korinsha Press, Tokyo, 1998.
Current Selling Prices
The book appears in thick card cover about the size of a phone directory, with photos printed on a thickish stock. No jacket. Homma's photo book of the Tokyo suburbs and the kids growing up there is much wanted. It is covered approvingly in Parr & Badger (Photobook 2, 2006). His previous book, somewhat in the wake of transgressive photographer Nobuyoshi Araki was called 'Baby Land' (1995) a lesser effort full of the pouting-young-girls-in-white-panties so much admired by Japanese smudgers.
'Suburbia' is a small masterpiece -- you really need the 20 page English language booklet that goes with it (especially to achieve true fiscal value) - it includes an annotated subway chart showing the location where each photo was taken and extended captions to some of the photos - these written by architect Momoyo Kajima with an essay on Suburbia by sociologist Shinji Miyadai. Homma won awards for the book. Homma manages to make "kogai" (suburban "newtown" housing developments) and the 'bed towns' seem slightly cool or at least he raises the possibility of seeing them as intriguing and worthy of inspection.
A photo critic in 'Archis' observes:-
'...Beyond the apparent frivolity and mischievousness, there is another, unironic, message: that everything — that is, every thing — has potential aesthetic properties. In this sense, perhaps the best point of reference for these photographs is John Cage’s composition 4′ 33″; scored as silence, it requires the listener to pay close attention to a random slice of environmental noise. Homma works with a similar arbitrariness — he could have pressed the shutter half an hour earlier or later.
Homma deliberately leaves the edges of many photos uncropped with all the consequent intrusive elements, although it is not a hard and fast rule- he is said to regard Catier Bresson's pride in never cropping a photo as “photographic narcissism.” Of course it is fairly well known that HCB quietly ignored his own dictum.
VALUE? Araki is of course where the big money is, with collectors of New Japanese Photography paying $5000+ for his first book (Sentimental Journey 1971, 1000 copies printed) but I have seen prices as high as $1300 for decent but not flawless copies of Homma's Suburbia. Cheapest on ABE is $900, a reasonable copy with no mention of the leaflet went through ebay at $500 in Feb 07 and one sits in an Ebay shop at $1050 with 3 offers on it. Don't quite understand all that offer thing, I guess the more offers the better. Probably vaguely on the rise, there are 20 million potential punters in the suburbs around Tokyo for a start. No one is calling the top of the photography market just yet. [ W/Q * ]