Untitled (Fish Head) by Daido Moriyama, Tsugaru Straits, gelatin silver print on fibre paper, 11" x 14", 1978.

Tepper Takayama Fine Arts: Untitled (Fish Head) by Daido Moriyama, Tsugaru Straits, gelatin silver print on fibre paper, 11″ x 14″, 1978. Hi-res reproduction retrieved from Foam. © Daido Moriyama

This image is also reproduced in the catalog assembled on behalf of the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain: Daido Moriyama, photographs by Daido Moriyama, text by Nobuyoshi Araki and Daido Moriyama, London: Thames & Hudson 2003, p. 34. The hi-res reproduction shown above was scanned from this book where the head is shown facing down. I did however kept the orientation shown over at the Tepper Takayama Fine Arts website, with the head facing right.

On the website of Galleri Susanne Ottensen, one can read a six parts essay by Daido Moriyama. Here’s the first part where he narrates the time he arrived in Tsugaru Straits (where the above photograph was taken):

In the early morning of May 18, 1978, I boarded a ferry from clear and sunny Aomori. Going straight to the cafeteria, I sat by the window and drank a hot cup of coffee. Idly relaxed in the blinding sunlight shining on the white tablecloth, the time I had spent the night before, frustrated at my inability to fall asleep at a hotel in Aomori, seemed unreal. For now, it was a second of individual happiness.
On the other side of the ultramarine blue sea, seen from a small window over which a pale white salt had crystallized, a band of low mountains stretching across the Shimokita Peninsula continuously flows into the haze. As the peninsula disappeared and the boat entered the Tsugaru Strait, I took my camera up to the deck and released the shutter in the direction of the ocean some ten times, before leaning on the side of the ship, staring intently down at the surface of the water far below, breaking on the hold of the ship, rippling, then the spread of countless white bubbles, their endless flow. In the straight, the wind, clouds, swells and a cold sharp enough to cut the skin gradually grew; the ship continued on its course to Hokkaido, and the enormous clime that had taken root.

From about that time, a sort of ineffable unease began to emerge inside me, in complete contrast to how I felt just moments before. It was the same gloom that haunts me whenever I take photographs. “What exactly am I? What exactly is photography? What is Hokkaido, what exactly are the Japanese islands?” Even having come this far, these pointless, meaningless thoughts still continued to intermingle.

The surface of white bubbles continues to flow, as always. The Tokyo I had left behind was already far from my mind, not just in terms of actual distance, but also strangely, completely receding, fading away, in exchange, Hokkaido’s cities and people slowly began to reveal themselves to me. (“My Documentary Photographs” by Daido Moriyama, undated)

For more about Daido Moriyama see:

  • For a general introduction see previously here: Daido Moriyama Photographs

  • The Tepper Takayama Fine Arts gallery where I found the proper information about the “fish head” photograph as 44 more of them.

  • Artnet has more than 200 photographs by Daido Moriyama. They usually are of medium or small size, but they are accompany by adequate information. Artnet sometimes also provides the actual location of those photographs.

  • The Museum of Modern Art: 5 photograph by Daido Moriyama.

  • Gallery Kamel Mennour has 16 photos from an exhibition held in 2008.


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