Photographmag - Rinko Kawauchi: Illuminance Book review by Vince Aletti

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Rinko Kawauchi’s Illuminance (Aperture) could be the year’s most beautiful photo book. Her 12th since 2001, when she published three books simultaneously, it’s culled from 15 years of work and loosely tied to the theme of light. Typically, her subjects are both ordinary and extraordinary: a burning cigarette, a suckling baby, a dead bird, a drop of water on a lily pad, a lunar eclipse. In a sequence of radiant color images that feels at once deliberate and random, she strikes an ideal balance between weight and weightlessness, the concrete and the ephemeral. David Chandler, the book’s elegant essayist, identifies Kawauchi’s “highly personal, insatiably hungry form of photography, both euphoric and startled,” as part of “a new kind of visual communication, a new language...that is diaristic, uninhibited, interpersonal, and emotionally charged.” But he also places her squarely within the Japanese photo-book tradition that gives publications priority over exhibitions. With Illuminance, Kawauchi clarifies what Chandler calls her “spirit of accelerated wonder,” summing up her considerable achievement while leaving it marvelously expansive and open-ended.