Ok, so sometimes you come across something and it just.... stops you in your tracks. Neil from Beyond Words came round to drop off a pile of books I'd bought (quite a few lately, which I hope to review in due course - including a rather nice one about shooting at night). I bought Michael Kenna's Mont St. Michel, Hiroshi Watanabe's Findings (beautiful book), Camille Solyagua's Collections 92-96 (she is Michael Kenna's partner and a great photographer too).
But while Neil was here, he showed me this book and I had to hold onto it to look at it a bit more.
Hiroshi Watanabe is not a photographer I know a lot about, but I find this book really quite compelling to view. Neil described the book as disturbing, but personally, I find it fascinating. In it, Hiroshi has taken pictures of dolls posing as real models and of models posing as dolls, and sometimes, it's just not that clear what is what.
An interesting pose for a doll. But what about the next image? Is this a doll, or a real model posing as a doll?
The photos challenged me and I must admit I found the experience interesting because It's not often I look at a photo book and come away from it feeling as though I'm going to be pondering the images for days to come.
I love books that do this, and I think this book is not really a book about pictures of dolls and models, but more a way of questioning how women are perceived at times. The word 'doll' for example, suggests that a woman is not real, is a fantasy and I couldn't help but look at the pictures of some of the mannequins here and almost try to wish them to be real (often something that is not real, but has the form of a human, can be slightly disturbing).
But surely, isn't that what photography has to be about sometimes? To challenge us?
The copy I was given is a nice small edition and it comes with a tipped in photograph. You can get it here if you find it as compelling as I do.