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Mono No Aware - もののあはれ
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Here I am again, presenting you with a little piece of what’s inside my mind. A new book about something that I’ve been thinking of for quite a while now… and yet again, I found the inspiration in Japan to bring it all together.
‘Mono No Aware’ もののあはれ is a Japanese term used to describe an awareness of the fleeting moments in life. A ‘gentle sadness’ for them passing, so to speak. I believe that the exact memory of any important moment a person decides to keep, slowly fades in time, and slowly gets replaced by the significance of that particular moment to that particular person… like a trigger that remains, even long after the specific moment itself is forgotten.
To get to the heart of the book, I need to provide a little history… In my previous project ‘Yakuza’, I photographed the Japanese mafia for two years and published a book about it. If you remember, most of it happened right here on burn, as a matter of fact.
The thing is, ‘Yakuza’ was literally my very first project as a photographer. I had no idea how to do or handle anything, let alone how to take on a serious long term project. So David mentored me right here… and the project became a real roller coaster: I worked for a year with my brother in Tokyo to get access, and subsequently spent two years shooting there. And then designed, produced, published, marketed and sold the book… and launched it all here on burn of course. Oh and the exhibits with their custom installation, they were a whole different ball game that lasted for two years too… the last one finishing just a few weeks ago in december.
And this was just my first project. So yes… safe to say my whole life got turned upside down and I felt the absolute necessity to balance it all. Stay sane. I turned around and pointed my camera in the opposite direction, and tried to capture moments that I saw passing that I felt I could not let go. Yes… deep down I know those moments are always kind of private… but I do believe they represent a more universal longing of any person to hold on to moments that are important to him or her, in any way he or she can…
… and my language just happens to be photography. (and carrying around little objects in my pockets of course)
I guess you’ve gathered by now: ‘Mono No Aware’ is a book to reflect upon. Kind of esoteric. Maybe a little like a winter EP. A cosy couch, fire going, hot cup of cocoa, blanket, notebook, and big bold plans for the future.
The book as an object is crucial to the story. It’s a hand assembled, and requires you to sit down and take your time. I designed the binding to be four LP style sleeves, all stitched together, to hold the harmonica folded chapters in place. You can take out the chapter pages, open them out completely or hang them up on your wall if you wish, and look at the whole story in a very different way. It’s really quite a unique object… to get a good grasp you should watch the video “book leaf through” below.
I’ve printed just 750 copies, of which the first 50 are a super special limited edition version*.
So there you go. I’m yet again presenting a little piece of what’s inside my mind…
Here’s a video of the book leaf through:
*About the limited edition: the first 50 copies are signed and numbered, with an extra, fifth LP record sleeve inside, containing three unique signed editioned prints. These prints do not appear in the regular book, but are part of the project as a whole.
Anton is a certified rabbit hole jumper and long distance staring expert. It says so on his business card. His very first photographic project ‘Yakuza’ turned into a book right here on burnmagazine.org for everyone to see, with the help of all the readers and the relentless mentorship of David Alan Harvey. The book sold out twice, the exhibit traveled the globe for two years, and the story has been published worldwide in no less than sixty-seven magazines along the way. Now there’s ‘Mono No Aware’, his vision on passing moments in life. And yes, he’s nervous for what’s next.