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

This is the second part of my interview with Mariko Takeuchi, last year’s guest curator the Guest Curator of the Paris Photo fair. The interview was published (without the images) in foam magazine #17, winter 2008.
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Part II    (Part I of the interview here)

Ferdinand Brueggemann:
Speaking of institutions and the galleries I would like to ask about Rinko Kawauchi. She is highly successful in the West, with many solo shows in Europe, in the USA and even in Latin America, but so far she has had only one solo exhibition in a Japanese museum, and that was in the countryside a long way out of Tokyo. Do you have an explanation for this gap?

Yutaka Takanashi: Untitled (Towards the city), 1968 ©Yutaka Takanashi

Mariko Takeuchi:
Perhaps it is not appropriate to judge an artist’s success only by his or her solo exhibitions in Japanese museums. Nevertheless it is still not easy for Japanese photographers to be recognized and promoted by Japanese museums. For example, Yutaka Takanashi, who played a leading from around Provoke Era at the end of the 1960s will have his first museum-scale solo exhibition at the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo next January. As you know, even though there are several museums which collect and exhibit photographs, it is still not easy for a photographer to get a solo show in a museum. In spite of that, Rinko Kawauchi, for example, is amazingly successful in Japan. Her photobooks are very popular. The common way to success for photographers in Japan is to first publish a photobook.

Masafumi Sanai: Trouble in mind. Taisho, 2008

Talking about photobooks I would like to come back to the John Szarkowski’s show in 1974. In the exhibiton catalogue Shoji Yamagishi, the Japanese co-curator, made the very important observation that the photobook is the most important tool for Japanese photographers to communicate their work. He gave three reasons for this: the aesthetics of the book, the shortage of exhibition venues and a non-existing art market: “Japanese photographers have only a limited opportunity to present their original prints to the public and no opportunity to sell their pictures to public or private collections. […] Japanese photographers usually complete a project in book form…”

Is Yamagishi’s observation that the photobook is the most important medium for a photographer still valid?

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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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Tomoko Sawada: Early Works

While I wrote my last post about Tomoko Sawada I became curious about her early works which I haven’t seen yet. Katsuya Ishida the owner of MEM gallery had been so kind to send me three of her early works currently exhibited at his gallery. The early works, done while Sawada was still a student at the Seian College of Art and Design, seem to be more playful than her later conceptual series, but they are already very strong in my opinion.

Tomoko Sawada: «Doll 1», 1996

 

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Tomoko Sawada at KPO Kirin Plaza and MEM, Osaka

This is my second post about Tomoko Sawada about whom I wrote two years ago already. Currently she has two exhibitions at KPO Gallery at Kirin PlazaKirin Plaza itself is worth a visit. The building – which gives the impression of a huge sculpture – by the architect Shin Takamtsu is a landmark building in Osaka. Scenes from the movie “Black Rain” were filmed at Kirin Plaza and at MEM gallery in Osaka (until Sept. 3).

“Masquerade” at KPO shows Tomoko Sawada in the guise of a few hundred different self-created identities. The exhibition includes the series “OMIAI” (2001), “Cover/Face” (2002) and “Recruit” (2006). A new book by Sawada with the title of the exhibition “Masquerade” is due to be published soon. In conjunction with the exhibition at Kirin Plaza, MEM gallery exhibits “Early Works” from 1996/97 which have not been shown to the public before.
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Tomoko Sawada at MAK, Vienna

Tomoko Sawada - from: Costume

Tomoko Sawada “Desire to Mimic”, at MAK, Vienna, until Feb. 6, 2005

This year was very successful for Tomoko Sawada. She just had her second exhibition at Zabriskie Gallery, New York, she received the prestigious Kimura Ihee Award in Tokyo and the International Center of Photography Infinity Award in the category of Young Photographer. Now she has her first solo show at a museum.
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