The presentation encompasses a representative cross-section of Japanese photographic trends during the 1960s and 1970s. With around 200 objects, the exhibition Provoke unites works by Japan’s most influential photographers - including Daidō Moriyama, Yutaka Takanashi, Shōmei Tōmatsu, and Nobuyoshi Araki. Before the backdrop of the massive protest activities in Japan during this period, they created their images out of an awareness of being at a historical turning point between societal collapse and the search for a new Japanese identity. These works thus represent both an expression of this political
transformation and a renewal of prevalent aesthetic norms.
This exhibition places Provoke in a historical context, focussing on the dialogue between the group’s photography in particular and contemporary protest photography and performance art in general. Photography is examined as a document of - and/or a call to - protest against injustice: the period around 1960 saw numerous books published in connection with the first great wave of protests in Japan against renewal of the alliance with the USA. A few of them document the demonstrations themselves, while others deal with related themes - above all with the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The years during which Provoke was published saw these protests, which were staged employing great creativity, give rise to a captivating visual world of resistance to the illegal actions of large corporations and the despotism of the
neoliberal Japanese state.