€46,23 excl. vat


ARTIST Kusukazu Uraguchi
TITLE Shima no Ama
YEAR 2024
MEDIUM Hardcover
SIZE 22 × 28 cm
LANGUAGE English & French


For centuries, ama - women divers - have fed the Japanese imagination. These free-divers collect abalone, shellfish and seaweed, the sale of which ensures their financial independence within the household. Kusukazu Uraguchi (1922-1988) has been photographing them in the Shima region, along the Pacific coast of Japan, for over thirty years since the mid-1950s. The fruit of extensive research among nearly 40,000 negatives - almost all of them previously unpublished - this remarkable archive of landscapes, portraits and underwater views tells the story of both the daily life and the special place of the ama community within Japanese society.

Uraguchi's images speak as much of cultural heritage as of modernity, as these communities have undergone profound changes in the wake of the wave of urbanization that swept Japan after the war. His photographic language - the plastic strength of his contrasting blacks and whites, his sense of deframing, gestures captured in their spontaneity - celebrates the freedom of bodies, solidarity and the spirit of independence.

To shed light on the many facets of this work, the visual corpus is accompanied by a text by Sonia Voss that unveils the mysterious world of this community, as well as a text by Chihiro Minato that contextalizes this work in the history of photography. A glossary, inspired by the writings of Japanese ethnologist Kiyoko Segawa and dedicated to the world of fishing and diving, reveals all the richness and technicality of their discipline.

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