publish

Ten images that didn't make it into YAKUZA

Sorry that I've been gone for a while... it's the first time in years that I've been able to relax my mind a couple of weeks, and in hindsight it has been necessary: I've been able to take some much needed important decisions, decisions that have been delayed and delayed even without me realizing it, and with a relaxed mind have come to surface and have been easier to contemplate... And of course I've started preparing for the fall when things will get up to full speed again with many especially exciting new things that I want to tell you all about, not only things related to the Yakuza project. More on all this soon...

In the meantime, I thought this one would be fun: the ten images that most narrowly did not make it into the ODO YAKUZA TOKYO book.

anton kusters - odo yakuza tokyo - just didn't make it

The story goes as follows: during any book design process, one has to be prepared to meet unexpected circumstances, and it's not uncommon that even at the last instant, things can change completely. In my case, my - what I (and the printer) thought was the - definitive book edit had always been 98 spreads with images, plus 6 spreads for the chapters (plus pages for text at the beginning and the end).

And then it happened. Right at the very last second, when the printer was making the final impositioning for the plates, we both noticed we had made a major calculation error in the book. I had designed part of one book section too many. Simple page count error. Basic rookie mistake. I've been professionally designing books for years, how could this have happened. This could turn out to be a disaster.... because this meant, that in effect, I would have to cut images from the book, and I had to cut them fast. There was simply no choice. The only other option would be to literally stop the printing and re-think the whole book paper, cover, book thickness, weight, binding,... not to mention the extra costs involved... and to delay the book launch by several months.

So I chose to push ahead. Cut the images. And what could have easily become a disaster, in hindsight, actually turned out to be something good. For some reason, I was able to identify the images that had to go, very quickly... having spent months with the edit, somehow it appeared clear in my mind what had to be done. And indeed, leaving those images out, turned out to make a stronger edit.

Of course, after cutting the images, I had to re-look and re-do the entire sequencing, and this in turn leading yet again to be forced to drop out another couple of images. Damn. In total, I decided cut exactly 10 images and changed the sequencing, dividing into more (but smaller) chapters... extremely tense moments I can tell you, especially because I think I only had 2 hours to complete the job, prepare a new hi res pdf and deliver it. The presses were ready to go. And you don't ever want the presses to be waiting for you, trust me.

Even with the pressure looming over me, I still recall those two hours as something extremely positive, as very exciting, as an opportunity to make the book better still. I'm so glad I didn't choke and pull the plug. It was like someone had whispered in my ear: "Anton, you now have 2 hours to make your book better, and it's your last chance... go for it".

Judge for yourself... what do you think of these 10 that didn't make the cut? I know showing them out of their original sequence is not ideal, but I hope it'll work.

anton kusters - odo yakuza tokyo - just didn't make it
anton kusters - odo yakuza tokyo - just didn't make it
anton kusters - odo yakuza tokyo - just didn't make it
anton kusters - odo yakuza tokyo - just didn't make it
anton kusters - odo yakuza tokyo - just didn't make it
anton kusters - odo yakuza tokyo - just didn't make it
anton kusters - odo yakuza tokyo - just didn't make it
anton kusters - odo yakuza tokyo - just didn't make it
anton kusters - odo yakuza tokyo - just didn't make it
anton kusters - odo yakuza tokyo - just didn't make it

have a great summer all, and more soon, I promise!

a

I was a Dog (exhibit)

A quickie. I was recently asked to join a collective exhibit of former students at the photography academy of my home town. I was honored of course, but as I couldn't show work from the Yakuza project (someone else has got dibs on that biggie - I'll reveal very very soon :) I opted for an edit of images from my Mexico work in 2008.

Six images from a chapter titled "I was a Dog", part of Dislocate, the broader story in which I try to come to terms with my feelings of being uprooted.

The hardest part for me is always how to visualize the reality of the printed image in a given exhibit space, and depending on that, to try and make the best possible choices: which image edit, which size, to make an accompanying edition or not, and how to present the images. A good way for me to help visualize is that I not only make a simple sketch of the space and add the work into it, but that I also add silhouettes of people at the correct relative sizes. This never fails to amaze me, and always proves to be very helpful. Bigger is most definitely not always better.

For this exhibit, I had available 3 large panels of 2,5x3m (8x10ft) each, white, both sides usable.

Anton Kusters - "I was a Dog" - SASK Hasselt - setup 01

Anton Kusters - "I was a Dog" - SASK Hasselt - setup 01

Anton Kusters - "I was a Dog" - SASK Hasselt - setup 02
Anton Kusters - "I was a Dog" - SASK Hasselt - setup 02

As you can see by the relative size to the silhouettes and the panels, in this case, the prints should be quite large, 44" high by almost 70" wide.

If I would've printed a test image at this size without having made the sketch first, I would've most certainly opted for much smaller prints, because, right now, drying on my table at home, they seem way too large:

I was a Dog - image of print
I was a Dog - image of print

Presentation-wise, I'm going for a "bare bones" approach, hanging the prints with two steel clamps directly on the paper, without any framing or glass or filter at all. Light prints, heavy content. I hope it'll work out.

How on earth I'm going to transport these beasts to the venue next week is a mystery to me.

And I've beent told that any exhibit is prone to last minute changes because of many unforeseen/practical circumstances... e.g. what if there are only two panels available instead of three, or they cannot be setup side by side...

So I might have to adapt on the spot.

Makes it all the more exciting me says. Fingers crossed.

Cheers,

anton

More exhibit info on the website of the Academy of Fine Arts of Hasselt (in Dutch).

The YAKUZA 2nd edition book cover

ODO YAKUZA TOKYO - second edition - cover Surprise! For those of you who ordered the second edition of YAKUZA, I present you with the new cover image. I hope you like it...

The inside of this second edition is the same as the sold out limited edition... but the last image, binding, chapter paper and cover are different. Read more about that here.

Exciting... In about ten days the second edition will be stitched and bound, the cover attached, and all the books will be individually shrinkwrapped, ready to be packed and shipped.

And so the distribution begins... I'm really really looking forward to it, and at the same time I'm a little scared of this first massive shipment of books I'm going to fulfill during the first week of November. Am I logistically even going to be able to handle it?

Fingers crossed.

Looking forward to the smell of books filling up my house again.

Have a great day today,

a

 

PS. Oh, and if you haven't bought a book yet, now is really the time to do so... just click the green button here to your left... I need your support... I promise, you'll not be disappointed!

 

ODO YAKUZA TOKYO - second edition - cover

ODO YAKUZA TOKYO (limited edition)

Finally.... it's here! The book ODO YAKUZA TOKYO.... Over on BURN Magazine there's a great interview by David Alan Harvey with me about the new book... and obviously you can buy it there. Please do so... it's a beautiful object... and limited to only 500 numbered copies...

Below an excerpt from the introductory text:

In the hotel bar in Niigata, I’m only slowly starting to understand the extremely subtle social interaction that is continuously happening; the micro-expressions on the faces, the gestures, the voices and intonations, the body language...

As the bar is being evacuated to make room for the godfather having a coffee, everything seems to be strictly organized but at the same time seems to come naturally: strange, I don’t need anyone to tell me what to do, where to sit, when to talk or when to shut up. It’s like I literally feel the boundaries, the implicit expectations, and I’m slowly learning when I can move forward, and when to best hold back.

Sitting at the table with a bodyguard looking straight through me, I drink my iced coffee. I’m feeling the acute sensation of walking on eggshells.

---

So yes, I feel a little like I took a step forward... printed and bound exactly like I envisioned it, a limited edition of 500 copies, soft cover, Japanese paper,... in my eyes, it has it all.

I sold 8 out of 10 copies at LOOK3 festival a few days ago, and was humbled by the amazing response. To watch someone looking through your book is something that completes the circle for me...

So go ahead, buy a copy, you will not be disappointed... and you will be supporting me to continue my work. Shipping starts on July 1st. My first task, tomorrow, is going to Japan with 10 books as a gift to the family bosses. Presented to them by me and my brother Malik with a little ceremony.

Fingers crossed.

Oh, and by the way.... today is my birthday.... some lucky coincidence.

[ NOTE: as of July 21 2011, this limited edition is sold out. You can direct any inquiries about this limited edition to me directly. There is a second edition of this book available; for more information and to buy the second edition, look here. ]

Dislocate...

When i was in Mexico in the fall of 2008, during the Day of the Dead festivities in Oaxaca, i made the first image of was to become a life long project. I knew when i had made the image, that something had happened.

But i needed long talks with family and friends to be able to put my finger on what it meant exactly... David, being in Mexico as well, was the first i could talk to. At the time i had no clue how my developing visual language was tied into my own psyche, my own history and personality, and i really needed help contextualizing what i had just created and what it meant to me.

dislocate_ANT6334

It was a hard time for me right after that image.

It felt like I had touched something very personal, and to be honest i never expected this to happen. I mean, while taking pictures? It got so bad, I'd find myself traveling, wandering the streets all over the world desperately trying to find myself, pointing my camera inwards along the way.

Only very slowly i learned to use this feeling as a positive rather than a constrictive force. But it was hard - and sometimes, when i get into that mood, it still is - to make that switch.

Yes, i'm a gemini :-/

dislocate_ANT9957

I honestly never thought i would ever even have something resembling anything close to a life long project. It sounds so daunting. It's sounds so... pompous. So... something that fake artists declare, so... something so not like me, and certainly not something to tell anyone about.

But for some reason, it gives me a tremendous peace of mind and a kind of tranquility that i never expected.

I know i might never complete it, let alone publish it. Come to think of it, completion is not even relevant. But publication is, i guess... And i have a gut feeling that the chance of publishing this project will be directly related to how successful in general i will be as a photographer, because i'm sure i'll have to use up all my credit to get this one published.

I am, effectively, building up my entire career, just to have enough credit to make this happen.

No joke. That's how it feels. Sounds weird doesn't it.

---

The project "dislocate" not only photography: it spills over to the rest of my life. My relationship with my family has always been exceptional, and now it is even better; I'm much more at ease in any friend or love relationship; when I'm working, I now work harder and more efficiently; and I love what I do more than before.

On the other hand, I'm also much more intolerant and nervous, and get angry more often, when confronted with things that waste time or energy... I'm much more focused, and realize more than before that we are all given only one time here on this world. And I feel I have to make it count.

---

"dislocate" is not a singular project anymore. It's an assignment, it's commercial, it's art, it's my life, all at the same time. It does not distract me from any other work i do. It is just, simply, there.  I could best describe it as an energy, a mood that runs through me, all the time. It isn't even fixed to photography... Photography just happens to be the vehicle to express at this point in time.

"dislocate" forces me to open my mind as wide as i can. It makes me not judge others and listen instead, trying to understand. I honestly believe it might even make me a better person.

"dislocate" is my sense of my place in this world. Me feeling uprooted, my incessant looking for where i belong.

Where my land is.

Funny that feeling dislocated, something that used to unsettle me and make me nervous, now actually makes me feel calm instead.

I still get nervous sometimes though... but not too often anymore.

Actually, I think "dislocate" is never meant to be finished. It is just the thing that makes me feel that i am a photographer.

Hmm...

I hope it never goes away.