Tuesday, June 12, 2012

RIP: Masahisa Fukase

Twenty years after falling into a coma, Masahisa Fukase died on the 9th June. James Luckett first introduced me to The Solitude of Ravens in 1997. It remains one of my favorite books that I perused regularly at the Center for Creative Photography and still show his images to my students today. The Guardian published this article by Sean O'Hagan in 2010 and the paragraph below captures his intent behind the series:

"In an essay entitled The Art of Losing Love, Oborn notes: 'Fukase's best-known work was made while reeling from loss of love.' She points out that Fukase began his pursuit of the ravens just after Yoko, his wife of 13 years, left him. 'While on a train returning to his hometown of Hokkaido, perhaps feeling unlucky and ominous,' she writes, 'Fukase got off at stops and began to photograph something which in his culture and in others represents inauspicious feeling: ravens. He became obsessed with them, with their darkness and loneliness." The Solitude of Ravens, then, is a book of mourning. (Yoko, tellingly, was Fukase's main subject before he turned his camera on the ravens.)'"

O'Hagan also writes: "In Japanese mythology, ravens are disruptive presences and harbingers of dark and dangerous times – another reason, perhaps, why the photographer was drawn to them during his darkest hour. In 1992, five years after the book was published, Fukase fell down a flight of stairs in a bar. He has been in a coma ever since. His former wife, now remarried, visits him in hospital twice a month. 'With a camera in front of his eye, he could see; not without,' she told an interviewer. 'He remains part of my identity; that's why I still visit him.'"

We lost Fukase in 1992 yet his passing in 2012 is still as sad and foreboding as his photographs.

[All images are from Masahisa Fukase's The Solitude of Ravens.]

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