VARIOUS PHOTOGRAPHERS. 10.21 to ha nani ka [What is 10.21?]. [Tokyo]: (The 10.21 to ha nanika Publishing Committee), [1969]

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10.21 to ha nani ka [What is October 21?].
[Tokyo]: (The 10.21 to ha nanika Publishing Committee), [1969].

8vo (210 × 150 mm), pp.[96]. 79 black-and-white photographs. Photo-illustrated wrappers; small mark to rear cover, very light toning to foot of spine, light rubbing to spine at fold. Near-fine, scarce, particularly in this condition.

First edition. In the late 1960s, the student protest movement reached its peak in Japan, and a number of remarkable books were published during this period. What is 10.21? is particularly valuable as a social and historical record because it was created by the students themselves. The title refers to the nationwide rally on 21, October 1968 to mark International Anti-War Day. The demonstrations were highly coordinated and took place in over 500 locations in close to 50 cities throughout Japan. What is 10.21? includes photographs taken by students at these events together with others taken during various student movement activities throughout 1967-68. To avoid any possibility of the photographs being used as incriminating evidence none of them are credited, the publisher is an anonymous committee, and no identifiable faces are visible throughout the book. It includes a chronology which places the student demonstrations together with key international events such as the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., the death of Che Guevara, workers’ strikes in Germany, and student protests in France.

The students who contributed photographs were for the most part amateurs and did not have access to the appropriate equipment or film. In addition to this the pictures were often taken at night, and under difficult circumstances, and as a consequence the images are mostly out of focus and grainy, thereby achieving the visual effect deliberately sought by Takuma Nakahira, Daido Moriyama, and others close to the are-bure-boke (grainy, blurry, out-of-focus) photography of the Provoke movement.

Only 1 copy located in OCLC: The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Kaneko, R. and Vartanian, I., Japanese Photobooks of the 1960s and ‘70s pp.144-9; Parr, M. and Badger, G., The Photobook: A History vol.III p.59.


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