OAK is a creative agency and production company specialized in the development of documentary projects. Our work originates from the need to communicate aspects of the human condition through means of local, small-scale stories, that help us understand global realities.
Regarding publications, OAK edits an annual magazine since 2017: the D.OAK, successfully financed through different sponsors, and the support of our patrons. Now we want to take a step forward and create our first photographic book: an object designed with utmost care and detail, to showcase one of our projects as you have never seen it before.
THE MATAGI PROJECT
Between 2017 and 2019, one of our teams traveled twice to Akita and Yamagata prefectures in northern Honsu, the main island of Japan. There, they had the privilege of being the first visual storytellers from outside the Asian country in portraying the life of Matagi hunters, specifically that of the groups established in Oguni and Animatagi.
During the first trip, our storytellers witnessed the beginning of a transformation process in the community, as a result of an unprecedented change in their codes and traditions: the admission of the first female hunter after five centuries of history. In 2018, the National Geographic Society awards us with one of its prestigious research and exploration grants to expand the project, thus facilitating our return in 2019 to delve into its history, and further understand the evolution of this community.
Two of the authors who made the MATAGI project possible, the researcher Alex Rodal and the photographer Javier Corso, have come together to shape a unique object, capable of synthesizing the full history of the community between the covers of a single book. The format and design chosen for this publication has been the leporello, or accordion book, which is displayed before the reader as if it were a historical scroll. An object of which the content can be discovered by unfolding its pages, and whose legacy is perfectly protected when we incorporate it into our libraries.
Our reader will find in this object two covers and three different ways of reading it.
Starting from the cover decorated with the kanji calligraphy of the word “matagi”, the leporello reveals a narrative based solely on images, when unfolding it in the western reading direction. If, on the contrary, we choose to start from that same cover to the left, the eastern reading direction, the book reveals the transcription of the Matagi legend in the same way as it was shown to our documentary makers in the village of Ani (original town of the community) with its corresponding translation into Spanish. Through it, we will learn about the myth that forever united the mountain goddess, Yama-no-Kami, with Banji Banzaburou, the Matagi ancestor.
The second cover introduces the name of the community with characters from the Latin alphabet, inviting our (western) reader to unfold the book in the direction that they are used to in their language, from left to right. What its pages will reveal, in the form of a diary, is the testimony of Yama-no-Kami, herself. Alex Rodal and Javier Corso use the voice of the mountain goddess as the guiding thread of the narrative; a story told in 9 chapters –written by four hands– that takes over from the legend of Ani and brings the gaze of the deity closer to the present day, reviewing the human condition through the curiosity that the Matagi people inspire in her.
NOTE: This book will be edited and published both in Spanish and English. Backers will be able to choose their language at the end of the campaign.
Design & Photography: Javier Corso / Text: Alex Rodal & Javier Corso / Illustrations: Hiroko Ebihara (first Matagi woman) / Cover calligraphy: Masami Ito (Matagi) / Translation & Interpretation: Tsuzumi Lisa Takagi & Mari Mogami
Format: leporello / Size (closed): 16 x 21 cm. / Size opened: 640 x 21 cm. / Binding: hardcover with red fabric + serigraph / Part-title pages: white cardboard 1 mm. + magnet closing
WHO ARE THE MATAGI?
Matagi are traditional hunters living in small villages and settlements in the highlands of northern Honshu, the main island of Japan. From its origins, back in the 16th century, they have made a living of selling meat, skins and other products derived from hunting. Their main prey is the Japanese black bear, a subspecies listed as vulnerable according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
These communities, however, never face hunting as a recreational or sporting activity. For the Matagi, Nature is a conscious presence, personified in the Goddess of the Mountain (Yama-no-Kami); a deity who is envious of other women and thus has forbidden them from entering her domains for over five centuries. In the last 10 years, the need to preserve the Matagi cultural heritage has prevailed over religious convictions and, in the face of the disinterest of young men, the first cases of Matagi women –accepted and trained as hunters– have recently emerged. Women who, as is currently the case on a global scale and in all strata of society, claim an equal position in every field.
Only our VERKAMI backers will be able to get their model with a 15% discount on the sale price of the book, which will be 40,00 €. Furthermore, we have prepared a series of exclusive rewards to celebrate the launch of our first book, both for those who didn’t know about us, and to those faithfuls that have been following our documentary projects for years.
Only for the fastest, we have designed a commemorative postcard of the Matagi project with iconic images of both trips —representative of the evolution of this community— united with the calligraphy in Kanji of the word “Matagi” in the center. These symbols are handwritten by one of the members of the Oguni community, Masami Ito; the original parchment is part of the traveling exhibition of this project.
For the newcomers, OAK puts at your disposal a series of packs with all our editorial content which includes the latest editions of our annual publication D.OAK magazine. In each one of them you will find two of our reportages, always accompanied by a series of texts written by the authors who have made the respective projects possible; through their accounts, the reader has access to the experiences and learnings of our colleagues, the personal mark of these stories lived on the field.
As it could not be otherwise, Javier Corso has offered three photographs of the series (open edition), to reward you for your support; and **two limited signed edition prints for the backers that are interested in collecting photographic art.
For the first time ever, OAK offers their photography backers the opportunity to have as mentors the authors of the book, the researcher Alex Rodal and the photographer Javier Corso. 1 pack of 8 hour sessions invested in guiding your documentary projects (not necessarily editorial ones) whatever their stage of development might be, in a remote form (online) and adapted to your 2021 schedule.
LA LLIBRERIA (+18)
This cocktail temple in Barcelona witnessed the birth of what OAK is today among photographs, dreams and drinks; and to honor that its owner created (and incorporated to the menu) a cocktail that bears our name. There, our team celebrates all the special occasions, and this is without a doubt one of the most memorables; because of that we provide you a reward limited to 20 invitations to share with us the first launch ceremony in Barcelona. Do you dare to share a night out amongst OAKs?
HOW WILL WE USE YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS?
All the money collected will be invested in the printing costs of the book, the production of rewards and their delivery to the backers.
OAK has decided to take another step forward in its editorial adventure, preceded by the successful publication of three numbers of its annual D.OAK magazine, launching now its first book. The same way we were born as an agency and production company with the purpose of filling the gaps that the media leaves when it comes to storytelling, we now take a stance as a publisher to create this and other future objects, allowing us to disseminate our documentary projects outside of the interests and trends of the market.
JANUARY: Closing of the VERKAMI’s campaign
FEBRUARY: Printout of the book and production of the rewards
MARCH-APRIL: Delivery of the rewards
You can see our projects and publishing products in our web: www.oakstories.com
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