X-Ray Japan 1945

X-Ray Japan 1945


DANIEL BLAU has established himself as a necessary name in historical photography. With Misled: German Youth 1933-1945 and 1937 – Japan Attacks China!, Blau has assembled two collections of documentary photographs from some of the darkest moments in modern history, making many of them accessible and available for the first time, after over 70 years of existence. {…}
{…}Accordingly, the presentation in this pamphlet might also be taken as neutralizing, whetting our gaze as viewers to the artistic and aesthetic aspects of the recordings without dulling thereby our knowledge of the historical and human background. In this way, the photographs insist as well upon their significance for history. We only recognize that which we have seen with our own eyes as the undisputed truth, a truth cradled forward by the time capsule of historical photography.
With all this in mind, we might treat this pamphlet as a chance to explore the complex perspectives one can take without losing sight of what took place or of photography as a document of wartime reportage. Considering how little time elapsed between Yamahata taking his pictures and creating the prints exhibited here, these prints bear an aura of historical event about their very selves, and create a special sense of closeness that modern prints couldn’t approach. The stamps and slugs, often printed and applied to the back of the photos, facilitate an intuitive chronological classification and bring us closer to the historic moments and destinies lying behind them; they act in this sense both as objects of their time and as links between 1945 and 2020, between photographer and viewer.
What’s more, the extensive compilation of Japanese and American photographs offers a chance for us to construct a more fully realized image and understanding of August 1945. Perhaps we should speak of the curator here as taking on the role of intermediary, offering these images in terms and frames necessary for audiences to grasp them fully, grapple with their implications and wide range of interpretations, and to see them as they were first seen through the photographer’s lens and in the spirit he hoped they would carry with them. “Today,” he wrote years later, “with the remarkable recovery made by both Nagasaki and Hiroshima, it may be difficult to recall the past, but these photographs will continue to provide us with an unwavering testimony to the realities of that time.”
Text: Katharina Rohmeder


Printed and bound by Pelo-Druck Lohner oHG
Paper content: Offset 50g/m2
Paper cover: Olin, Rough, cream, 200g/m2
Published: 2020
64 pages, 33 images
15×21 cm, softcover
ISBN: 978-3-9821983-2-3

Editor: Daniel Blau

Text: Katharina Rohmeder

Editor: Robert Isaf

Layout: Christiane Wunsch

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Yoshito Matsushige, “Hiroshima, Victims Waiting to Receive First Aid”, August 6, 1945, ©Yoshito Matsushige, courtesy Daniel Blau, Munich