Harlem: Black Angels



Hajime Kijima & Ruiko Yoshida. Sanctuary, 2010. The second book by acclaimed female Japanese photographer Ruiko Yoshida, whose early seventies images of Harlem capture both the time and place with uncanny virtuosity. That this book has remained little-known in the West is a testament to the great breadth of postwar Japanese photobooks. In this book she captured various aspects of the local culture and major events, such as the funeral of Malcolm X. Similarly to other Japanese photographers of the post-war period who came to New York, she was drawn by the multicultural context of the city and wanted to share that reality with her Japanese contemporaries. In addition to street scenes and a humanistic perspective of Harlem, the book includes autobiographical elements of her experience in Harlem, with her husband (an African American) and her child. The life of her child is in fact quite present throughout this book (see images), blurring the frontiers between a personal and an objective documentary of Harlem.