“SOKOHI” by Moe Suzuki: An artist book review by Kassel Dummy Award jury member Moritz Neumüller, and photo book collector Oliver Burgold
Moe Suzuki participated in Photobook as Object workshop in 2019 and also had her exhibition SOKOHI in our gallery in the following year which she published her artist edition of the same title.
As SOKOHI got special mention for Kassel Dummy Award 2020, the artist received a few reviews, the one is by Moritz Neumuller, the judge for Kassel Dummy Award and the another is by Oliver Burgold, a photobook collector. Here are their reviews with ‘disintegrating’ page images from the book.
Visual Ease Black is a handmade spiral-bound notebook made in the workshops of the social welfare corporation Tokyo Hikari, which are specialised in the manufacturing of handmade spiral notebooks.
It has black pages, which is useful for people with low vision, but also attractive for artists and useful for technical drawings.
SOKOHI is an artist book by Moe Suzuki, developed in a workshop with Yumi Goto, in 2019. To use the notebook made by blind people as the structural and metaphorical support to tell the story of the artist’s father, who suffers from glaucoma and is slowly losing his vision makes all the sense in the world.
At least, in our world. Thanks to brilliant book-makers like Suzuki, the world of photobooks has become even more fluid, open and seamlessly integrated with the world of artists’ books today. SOKOHI, which holds personal notes and photographs of Tetsuichi Suzuki, disintegrates more and more towards the end, in a parallel process to his gradual loss of eyesight.
His daughter tries to understand, and to show us what she feels that is going on behind her father’s eyes: At first tiny and few, then more and always bigger laser-cut holes appear in the pages, simulating the “blind spots” in the father’s visual field, and what the artist feels must be his inner life.
A highly elaborate book that touches us in an intimate way, without asking for pity or sadness. Pure visual poetry at its best.
Moritz Neumüller, Independent Curator, Barcelona.
At first I was a bit skeptical if a ring bound book can really transport such a difficult topic but once I learned more about your concept things became much clearer. I also thought that it is nearly impossible to transport the topic of becoming blind into a book form. But I was totally wrong! Your thoughtful layout and the very consistent sequencing give the book a depth which can not be overestimated. Your reader becomes less of someone who is just turning pages but becomes someone who is enabled through your work to share an experience, not only intellectually but near physically. This indeed is a feature which is rarely to be found in books. But you succeed brilliantly in conveying the experience of this person to your readers. It’s not an easy read, it left me exhausted..
… but wouldn’t want to miss any second i worked with “Sokohi” And in this respect i think PhotoKassel is right to call it a unique piece of art. It’s a book which becomes an experience. You have created something special to be very proud of! I for my part am always surprised how the Reminders Artists come up with so many incredibly good works. you’re all doing a tremendous job! I really love these things!
There is a museum in Frankfurt called the Dialog Museum. Upon entering you’re being blindfolded and a blind person is your guide through different rooms and situations. Probably the closest way to learn about blindness. For a short time you
experience what they experience. Your book is close to that experience.