RG Insights: Daido Moriyama

RG Insights: Daido Moriyama

Daido Hiromichi Moriyama was born in Ikeda-shi, a city in Japan’s Osakan Prefecture, in 1938. After studying graphic design and photography under scenic photographer Takeji Iwamiya, Daido moved to Tokyo in 1961 to join the celebrated group of photographers called VIVO. He took on an apprenticeship under experimental filmmaker and photographer Eikoh Hosoe, whose style focused on darker aspects of human psychology, expressed through the lens of bodily eroticism.

Daido would eventually pursue his freelance career in 1964, spending time shooting in the American naval base of Yokoshuka and becoming friends with Takuma Nakahira, a fellow contributor for seminal Provoke Magazine, which revolutionized street photography with its anti-authoritarian stance. Three volumes of “Provoke” or “Provocative Materials for Thought” would release between 1968 and 1969, with Daido contributing work for issues 2 and 3.

Moriyama’s fascination with starker aspects of urban living would lead to the creation of Nippon Gekijō Shashinchō, a body of work showcasing his raw style, coined “are, bure, bokeh,” which translates to “rough, blurred and out of focus.” This grainy, black-and-white aesthetic would spread its influence between the late 60s and 70s in and outside of Japan. Moriyama applies this high-contrast style to urban living scenes, manipulating perspectives and framing to bring out macabre elements typically hidden in isolated spaces and moments.

The city has everything: comedy, tragedy, eulogy, eroticism. It is the ideal setting, the place where people’s desires are interwoven. - Daido Moriyama

Explorations of memory would also come to define his work in photo-books like Shinjuku, Tokyo, Daido Moriyama: A Diary and The World Through My Eyes, with Moriyama choosing imperfect compositions to better represent the fragmentation of his past and present experiences. For him, the city is a flawed but erotic happening of characters, emotions and shifting environments — a place where he could reestablish the lost feeling of “home” through raw engagement with the world around him.

Japanese people often talk of home as a place where you are born, grow up and everyone is there but I don’t have such a home—I’ve been moving a lot since I was a child. I am creating my own home by connecting pieces of images from my imagination and things I saw as a child. That’s how I feel about my work. - Daido Moriyama

Wanting to see his photography exist outside the confines of critical spaces, Daido’s work has also appeared in collections by various designers and most recently in OAMC’s AW20 release, showcasing iconic prints like “Stray Dog” (1971). Among countless recognitions, gallery showings and group features, Moriyama was finally granted the prestigious Hasselblad Award in 2019, the greatest international recognition for a lifetime of achievement in photography. At 82, Daido Moriyama continues to exhibit and work outside of his Shibuya studio, located in Tokyo.

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