A Map of the East

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1994 Trade paperback First edition. Illustrated. New. No dust jacket. Sewn binding. Paper over boards. 132 p. Contains: Illustrations. Audience: General/trade.

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Editorial Reviews

Bill Ott
"The question of how much is corrupt and how much not yet corrupted is what drove me through making the pictures in this book." The color photographs in "A Map of the East" reveal that Leo Rubinfien approached the matter of Asian innocence gingerly, wary of Western sentimentalizing and always cognizant of the "mixture of tenderness and irony" lurking beneath the surface of Eastern places and faces. Rubinfien, who spent much of his childhood in Japan, returned to Asia in the 1980s, visiting China, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Burma, Hong Kong, and Vietnam, as well as Japan. He took more than 100,000 photos while on his journey, selecting from that vast number 107 for inclusion here. The images are arranged in pairs, with each shot somehow related to the one on the facing page. Sometimes the connections are simply witty, as with the porcine-faced Tokyo businessman set against a fish in a Hong Kong restaurant, but other times they are joined through more subtle means--a mood or an emotion--as in the linking of garbage floating in a Bangkok river with a stone lantern in a Japanese garden, both images reflecting an ironically similar delicacy of design It's easy to focus on the clash of cultures one finds in these striking images--the Western world of Dunkin' Donuts insinuating its way, serpent like, into the timeless rhythms of the East--but there is much more here than that. Most of all there are the faces, reflecting what Donald Richie calls in his perceptive afterword a "fecund ambiguity": whether it's a Tokyo businessman with places to go, an Indonesian "B-girl" lounging languidly in the 007 Bar in the Philippines, or a group of elderly card players on a Shanghai backstreet, these faces tell complex stories, stories that mix bitterness with hope, desperation with resilience. Best of all, there is a burning particularity to each one of Rubinfien's images. Whether of people or landscapes or interiors, these photographs are palpably alive, and, together, they make what is clearly one of the best photography books of the year.
Booknews
This collection of 107 color photographs taken by Rubinfien during the 1980s in Japan, China, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Burma, Hong Kong, and Vietnam, comprises a stunning but stark catalog of modernity's annihilation of tradition--that which so often, unfortunately, goes by the name of progress. 8.75x9.75". Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780879239428
  • Publisher: Godine, David R. Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/1/1992
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 132

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