青幻舎 SEIGENSHA Art Publishing

青幻舎

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Asada Studio: Mannen

Author(s):
Masashi Asada
Price:
2,600 yen (JPY)
Language:
In Japanese
Size:
182 × 252 × 9 mm
Pages:
72 + 20-page booklet insert
Binding:
softcover
ISBN:
978-4-86152-817-0 C0072

A new photo collection from Masashi Asada, a key figure in contemporary family photography, whose work inspired the film The Asadas.

Masashi Asada received the prestigious Kimura Ihei Award for his highly acclaimed photobook Asadake (The Asadas), which showcases portraits of his family role-playing in staged and often whimsical scenarios—for example, as employees in a ramen shop or members of a fire brigade. The book was the basis for the 2020 family drama film The Asadas.

Asada’s newest photobook, Asada Studio: Mannen, explores new artistic dimensions in the realm of family and portrait photography. In the book, Asada pretends to be the second-generation director of a mom-and-pop photography studio, once again engaging his own family as subject matter. First up are works inspired by the birth of Asada’s son, Asahi, in which he begins by photographing the infant on a hand-woven tatami mat with good-luck charms from around Japan. Asada next seeks out people he perceives to be bringers of good fortune—shrine priests, for example, or the elderly—and asks them to hold his son while posing; for other photographs, he brings his son to auspicious-seeming places. The result is a series that abounds in happiness and positive energy, and that evolves right along with the growth of young Asahi. 

The book also includes a throwback to Asadake with snapshots of Asada’s family pretending to go about daily life in the “Asada Studio,” while another series centering on Asada’s father pushes the boundaries of traditional Japanese memorial portraiture. In all, Asada Studio: Mannen offers up a comprehensive collection of photos in the family-portrait genre.

Family photos accompany us in both life and death. They offer a view into the lives of our children from birth through adolescence, and they allow us to commemorate the deceased. The word mannen in Japanese alludes to “tens of thousands of years,” and Asada’s work is indeed a prayer for perennial happiness—a prayer he will doubtless continue to raise with his art. Asada Studio: Mannen is the quintessence of family photography at its most honest and powerful.

 

Masashi Asada was born in 1979 in Mie Prefecture, Japan. After graduating from the Japan Institute of Photography and Film, he worked as a studio assistant for a time before establishing himself as an independent photographer. In 2009, he won the 34th Kimura Ihei Award for his photobook Asadake (The Asadas; Akaaka Art Publishing, 2008). Other works include Arubamu no chikara (The Power of Albums; Akaaka Art Publishing, 2015), a photobook in which he chronicles, over the course of two years, the efforts of a group of volunteers working to clean damaged photographs and photo albums salvaged in the wake of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami and return them to their owners.

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