Michael Wolf: Tokyo Compression Revisited
With ‘Tokyo Compression’ Michael Wolf struck a nerve. His portraits of Tokyo commuters squeezed into the glass and steel world of the underground system have been exhibited and acclaimed around the globe. The first edition of the Tokyo Compression book sold out within a few short weeks. The topic of ‘Tokyo Compression’ kept haunting Michael Wolf as well. He later returned to Tokyo to immerse himself again in its subterranean insanity – and this time, he plunged even deeper. The result is Tokyo Compression Revisited, the second, completely revised edition of the classic original, with many unreleased images and an entirely new ‘hidden track’ at the end of the book.
Undergrounds and subways have been a topic of interest for many other artists before Wolf, including famous names such as Bruce Davidson and Walker Evans. But the concept as well as the metonymy of ‘Compression’ is original. Wolf is not interested in seat cushions, graffiti, interior architecture, or their relationship to the traveller ; rather, he uses the underground system as venue of investigating the mental state and aggregate condition of a city’s people. Wolf leaves out all distractions, focusing on just faces and figures. With his radical aesthetic, he creates pictures of terrible intensity: pictures can distress and shock as they take direct aim at the inner life of average people. With his accompanying essay ‘Tokyo Subway Dreams’, Christian Schüle delivers a gloomy diagnosis to the mass loneliness in modern megacities.
About the photographer:
To date, Michael Wolf has published 11 photobooks: China im Wandel (Frederking und Thaler, 2001), Sitting in China (Steidl, 2002), Chinese Propaganda Posters from the Collection of Michael Wolf (Taschen, 2003), Hong Kong front door/back door (Thames and Hudson, 2005; Steidl, 2006), The Transparent City (Aperture, 2008), the two-volume set Hong Kong Inside Outside (2009), Tokyo Compression (2010) & the companion book Tokyo Compression Revisited (2011), Real Fake Art, fy, and A Series of Unfortunate Events (2011).
Tokyo Compression Revisited