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By Greg Hobson on

Photography focus: Watabe Yukichi’s ‘A Criminal Investigation’

Curator of Photography Greg Hobson reviews Watabe Yukichi’s intriguing project A Criminal Investigation.

Watabe Yukichi’s book A Criminal Investigation arrived in the office this week.

Watabe Yukichi - A Criminal Investigation
Watabe Yukichi—A Criminal Investigation

This is a brilliantly conceived publication that affirms my belief in photography’s possibility to challenge and excite.

Yukichi (1924–1993) shadowed a team of Japanese detectives investigating the 1958 murder and dismemberment of Sato Tadashi. Then a young photojournalist, Yukichi mapped the unfolding investigation with a humanist eye.

Watabe Yukichi - A Criminal Investigation
From A Criminal Investigation

His interest and involvement with his subjects draw the viewer into a sequential narrative that feels more closely related to a 1950s film noir than a photo-documentary.

The editing in the book is superb. The design brilliantly echoes a period police notebook, or manila file containing evidential photography and notes.

Watabe Yukichi - A Criminal Investigation
From A Criminal Investigation

Hessian hardback covers fastened with an elastic band, investigation notes made on a manual typewriter and printing that subtly suggests vintage press prints; all these elements combine to make a book that functions as both a fascinating and involving record of a criminal investigation and a stunning photographic object.

A Criminal Investigation is published by Éditions Xavier Barral.

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