Kazuo Kitai and John Gossage

Barricade & The Code

August 18, 2012 - October 1, 2012
Opening Reception with the artist: Saturday, August 18: 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Harper’s Books is delighted to present a dual exhibition of two masters of photography: Kazuo Kitai and John Gossage, August 18 - October 1, 2012. This exhibition will also launch the publishing arm of Harper's Books with two volumes designed to showcase the work of these important artists: Barricade and The Code.

Kazuo Kitai began his photographic career in 1965 at the young age of 22. Japan was on the cusp of a sea change in its photographic culture, and Kitai stood at the vanguard of this transition. His first book, Resistance, which documented protests near the American naval base in Yokosuka, was arguably the precursor to Provoke: a movement that completely rewrote the rules of photography. This was certainly the belief of Takuma Nakahira and Daido Moriyama, two of the official founders of Provoke, who asked Kitai to join the movement, and pointed to Resistance as a blueprint for their ideas and goals.

A few years later, after being persecuted by the police who thought he was a radical, and abandoned by the leftist radicals of the protest movement who saw him as a traitor, Kitai found himself embedded within a cadre of ordinary students who took over the Art Department at Nihon University in Tokyo. For four months, Kitai manned the barricade and photographed the protesters in and around the University, focusing more on the quotidian nature of their struggle, rather than on images of police dispersing students in a haze of tear gas. The Barricadeseries, shot in the pivotal year of 1968, has never before been exhibited, nor has the work been published outside of Japanese periodicals. Our exhibition will feature unique vintage prints from this body of work. While Kitai has been extensively published and exhibited in Japan, this show and book are American firsts for a man widely regarded in Japan as one of its most important living photographers.

The American photographer John Gossage has long been a lover and admirer of Japanese photography. His library of Japanese photobooks is a testament to this passion. It was with this in mind that Harper's Books approached Gossage to design Kitai’s book, and to join the project by contributing his own photographs to Kitai's exhibition. In September 2011, Gossage traveled to Tokyo to meet with Kitai and shoot the images for his new book, The Code. These color photographs signal a departure from Gossage's usual territory. While his revelatory sanctification of the banal is inescapable, here we see a subtle shift to a more accessible perspective, with several luminous street scenes, and a host of pictures that capture the irrepressible beauty rooted in the fabric of the Japanese experience.

Harper's Books hopes you will join us on Saturday, August 18th, from 6-8pm, for the opening and book launch with the photographers who will be available to sign copies of their respective books.