HIROSHI SUGIMOTO | Yellow Sea, Cheju, 1992

Focus on contemporary Japanese photography. Interview with Mariko Takeuchi, Part I

Last year’s Paris Photo fair with Japan as “Guest of Honour” was a huge success and on this occasion the Dutch photography magazine “foam” contacted me to do an interview with Mariko Takeuchi, the Guest Curator of Paris Photo. The interview was published in foam magazine #17, winter 2008. I will publish the full interview in two parts. The images are a new addition for the blog [the interview was without images, except some very nice portraits of Mariko :-)].

Part II here
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Part I (of II)

The 2008 edition of Paris Photo – one of the world’s most important fairs for still photography – took place in the Carrousel du Louvre in mid-November. This year Japan was Guest of Honour, an exceptional opportunity to present an overview of Japanese photography. Photography has been a major feature of Japanese culture since its introduction in 1848, attracting wide international attention in the 1990s and growing world interest ever since.

We asked Ferdinand Brueggemann, Director of Galerie Priska Pasquer in Cologne and passionate founder of the photo blog Japan-Photo.info to discuss the current state of Japanese photography with the Guest Curator of the show, Mariko Takeuchi.

Nobuyoshi Araki, Yoko, from 'Sentimental Journey', 1971 ©Nobuyoshi Araki

Nobuyoshi Araki, Yoko, from ‘Sentimental Journey’, 1971 ©Nobuyoshi Araki

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Mikiko Hara

When I went to Japan in the second half of the 1990s for to research Modern Japanese photography I was fortunate to meet the photographer Eiji Ina who introduced me to the contemporary photography scene in Tokyo. At that time it was nearly impossible for foreigners without a well developed ability to read Japanese (especially names)As an example: when I visited the exhibition “MOBO, MOGA / Modern Boy, Modern Girl: Japanese Modern Art 1910-1935” in Kamakura (1998) all artists names were written in Kanji. Since I find Japanese names very difficult to read I asked other Japanese visitors for the names of some artists. This caused vivid discussions among the Japanese, because the Kanji can have several different readings and sometimes the Japanese could not agree on the correct spelling of the names :-). to find out what was going on in Tokyo, since there were no English sources neither about exhibitions nor galleries available and Eiji Ina was so kind to take me to photography events like exhibition openings at galleries and museums or to the award ceremony of the Kimura Ihei Award. He also introduced me to the photographer Mikiko Hara, whom I met for the first time in 1998 at the opening of her exhibition “Agnus Dei” at Nikon Salon, Ginza/Tokyo.

Mikiko Hara: untitled (from the series: Agnus Dei), 1998

A year later I saw Mikiko’s work again in the group exhibition about young Japanese women photographers “Private Room II” at Art Tower Mito. Curated by Kohtaro Iizawa this exhibition was a kind of assessment of the “onna no ko shashinka” (girly photographer) phenomenon which had already faded at that time. I felt that Mikikos work was misplaced in the girly photographer context, since she was a few years older than these ‘girlies’ like Hiromix and Yurie Nagashima. Also Hiromix’s and Nagashima’s main aim was to use the camera for to talk about themselves and to deal with their own identity. Mikiko’s topic is different, she does not speak about herself:

Mikiko Hara: Untitled (from the series: It As Is), 1996

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