“Leben und Tod” (“Life and Death”) constitutes the latest collaboration between German photographer Juergen Teller and Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki. Originally a joint exhibition at artspace AM in Tokyo in 2019, the two artists’ photographic collaboration has now been published by Steidl.
As the title implies, the book forms a deep (if playful) reflection on life and death. Following the death of his uncle and step-father, a man he felt very close to, Teller photographed his mother (now widowed again) and short cuts of his hometown of Bubenreuth in Germany, juxtaposing these “ordinary” scenes with symbolistic photographs of phallic imagery taken during a holiday in Bhutan. Araki, inspired by Teller’s photographs, asked him to send “childhood memory objects” – keepsakes and items with a deep emotional significance for Teller – that Araki then arranged and photographed in his house in Tokyo. The interplay between these two artists’ unique yet harmonizing approach gives birth to a strangely intriguing, thoughtful book.
“I visited my Mum, who still lives in the house where I was born in Bubenreuth, and spent the whole day collecting various objects to send him, full of excitement and anticipation. About two months later he sent me his photographic series and I was deeply impressed with what he had done with them.
This book embodies the deep affection and admiration between Araki and myself. At the gallery opening, he announced to the audience of journalists that I am like his son! I was overwhelmed with joy.” (from Juergen Teller’s foreword)