Sukita and Bowie – Speed of Life

“I would never have believed until Sukita-san showed me the contact sheets that he had taken so many photographs of my trips to Japan (and other occasional cities) over so many years. From the early Ziggy shows including the well known Rainbow concert in London, the market trips to Tokyo, temples in Kyoto and even the subway adventures: it seems Sukita-san got them all.” David Bowie, Speed of Life, Genesis Publications 2012.

Speed of Life by David Bowie and Masayoshi Sukita


My copy arrived: Number 594 of 2,000 of Speed of Life, artistically designed and lavishly crafted book of fine art prints from the archive of Japanese fashion and rock photographer Masayoshi Sukita. His subject is David Bowie, on stage, in the studio, exploring urban Japan, at leisure, over four decades. Both authors contribute extensive commentary on the chronological sequence of images, printed in English and Japanese, adding context and details as a kind of twinned autobiographical framing with much warmth for the reader and each other. A ceremonious concept of two vividly inventive creators with interrelating fascination for the other’s cultural world, and their periodic, fertile reconnecting as collaborators and friends, is reflected in the simple symbolic patterns and striking colour harmonies of the book’s design.

The limited edition is printed onto heavyweight matt art paper and hand-bound in calfskin leather with a turquoise cloth cover personally selected by Bowie. A high quality 7″ vinyl single of Bowie’s It’s No Game Parts 1 and 2 (1980) is snugly housed in a round tray cut into the inside back cover. On the front cover is a mirrored plate featuring an image from the iconic “Heroes” album cover sessions. The special edition is limited to 2,000 copies. Each copy is signed by Bowie and Sukita, and both of them have been involved throughout the design process. Over 80% of the photos in the 300-page book are previously unpublished.

I’ve been a fan of David Bowie’s work since 1980. Acquiring this book is a significant milepost for me to compare with seeing him perform live at Phoenix Festival 1996 in Stratford-upon-Avon. When this handsome example of the art of bookmaking arrived, and I carefully unpacked it, I felt the same thrill I used to cherish when a new album by Bowie was released and I hurried home from the store to listen for the first time. Although he does not release records any more, this sumptuous portfolio is unmistakeably a major new release by Bowie together with one of his greatest collaborators, the master Masayoshi Sukita.

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