The Magazine and the New Photography: Koga and Japanese Modernism
This event has ended.
Kōga was a coterie magazine that was produced for less than two years from 1932 to 1933. Printed in an A4 variant size, with the photographic plates reproduced using one-side offset printing, it contained thirty pages of articles and advertisements. It was an extremely extravagant publication but it is believed that its circulation was limited to only about 500 copies and even when it was being produced, very few people came into contact with it. Presided over by Yasuzō Nojima, who was joined by Ihei Kimura and Iwata Nakayama, it attracted amateurs from the Kansai area (Naniwa Photography Club, Ashiya Camera Club.) and was responsible for the emergence of the ‘Shinkō Shashin’ movement.
The magazine introduced works by foreign artists, such as John Heartfield, Edward Steichen, and Eugène Atget while also carrying translations of essays by Franz Roh, Moholy-Nagy, etc., providing information on the foreign art scene. The first issue included an essay by Nobuo Ina entitled, ‘Shashin ni Kaere’ [Return to Photography] that was later acclaimed as being an important assessment of Japanese modern photography.
Nojima was one of the central figures in the prewar photographic world while also enjoying an intimate relationship with members of the art world, serving as a patron for such artists as Tetsugoro Yorozu and the potter Kenkichi Tomimoto. The magazine was not limited to photography, but also featured a graphic montage by Masao Horino, an essay on typography by Hiromu Hara, and a discussion on motion pictures with the film director Teinosuke Kinugasa.
Although it was of extremely high quality, the gradual rise of social unease and the ever more intrusive effects of the war led to a change in the activities of photographers and the sudden suspension of the publication of Kōga. Kimura and Nakayama, however, continued their energetic endeavors and were to have a profound influence on the postwar photographic scene. By looking at why a magazine of this type was produced when it was and why it suddenly ceased publication after such a short time, we are able to catch a glimpse of Japanese society and culture as it was during the 1930s.
Two exhibitions offer a rare look at the origins and modernization of Japanese photography