Provoke the Age, the Acts: 50 Years’ Quest for a Language to Come
First published in 1968, the legendary photography magazine PROVOKE of post-World War II Japan shook the art world and subverted traditional aesthetics of photography with its are, bure, boke (“grainy, blurry, out of focus”) B/W images. The magazine encapsulated the social atmosphere of the late 1960s, challenged existing photographic forms and frameworks, and continues to have a profound influence on Japanese photographers today.
At its inception, PROVOKE magazine was curated by art and photography critic TAKI Koji and photographer NAKAHIRA Takuma. The poet OKADA Takahiko and photographer TAKANASHI Yukata were later invited to join as members, with MORIYAMA Daido also joining from the second issue. Despite its closure after only the third issue, PROVOKE has become an icon in the Japanese art world.
The Hong Kong International Photo Festival 2018 spotlights the legendary magazine in a landmark exhibition “Provoke the age, the acts: 50 years’ quest for a language to come” curated by Tokyo-based curator NAGASAWA Akio. Through the eyes of a dozen emerging and prolific artists of the 1960s and 1970s – including Nakahira Takuma, Moriyama Daido, Tomatsu Shomei, Sawatari Hajime, Suda Issei, and the late Hamaguchi Takashi – we see the Tokyo of the PROVOKE era: a shifting metropolis in the midst of global upheaval, and a modern Japanese society in rapid transformation.