A pleasant, successful and happy 2010!
I was quite busy the whole summer working Galerie Priska Pasquer on the program of Japanese photography – including a trip to Tokyo. One result of my work can currently be seen at our gallery:
It’s the first solo exhibition of Ikko Narahara´s work in Germany and the first time that his vintage prints from the 60s and 70s are on show in a gallery.
Ikko Narahara, born in 1931 in the Fukuoka Prefecture was self taught photographer. The response to his first (one week) solo exhibition in Tokyo’s only photo gallery was so positive that he decided to become a photographer. Soon after he took part in the groundbreaking photography exhibition ‘The Eyes of Ten’ in Tokyo in 1957. Two years later he became one of the co-founders of the legendary photo agency VIVO (in collaboration with Shomei Tomatsu, Eikoh Hosoe, Kikuji Kawada, and others), which was to be the epicenter for a new generation of Japanese photographers.
TOKYO PHOTO 2009
It’s a little bit late, but for Tokyoites and current visitors to Tokyo not too late: This weekend the first photography art fair is held in Japan: TOKYO PHOTO 2009. The fair is not that big – not to say quite small with 18 galleries participating, including four galleries from the USA. But some of the leading Japanese galleries have a booth like Tomio Koyama Gallery, Zeit-Photo Salon, MEM or Taro Nasu.
TOKYO PHOTO 2009 endeavors to be the foremost art fair of photography in Japan. The venue is located in the heart of international business and culture in Tokyo. To be held from September 4 to 6, Tokyo Photo 2009 will provide visitors with a unique opportunity to see and buy a wide range of photographic works from vintage prints to cutting-edge digitally enhanced images.
It would be great if this first photography fair would be successful and would be repeated in the upcoming years. Until now we have two major photography fairs, Paris Photo in Europe and the AIPAD Photography Show New York in the USA. I think a successful third fair in Asia would be an important tool to promote photography in Japan and nearby countries like China or Korea whose photography scenes are growing, but in which the market for photography still needs development. But of course, for these galleries from other Asian countries need to be included in future photography fairs…
THE PROVOKE ERA – Postwar Japanese Photography
I would love to see this show which opens on September 12 at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The show is curated by Sandra S. Phillips, senior curator of photography at the SFMOMA. Sandra did already the two fabulous travelling exhibitions which introduced leading Japanese photographers to the West: Daido Moriyama in 1999 and Shomei Tomatsu in 2006.
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.
Part II (Part I of the interview here)
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?
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 photo book.
Talking about photobooks I would like to come back to John Szarkowski’s show in 1974. In the exhibition 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?
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 for some very nice portraits of Mariko :-)].
Part II here
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, 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.
It’s over a year that I have written at Japan-Photo.info. But is it not because I lost interest in Japanese photography, on the contrary, I was so much involved in Japanese photography, that there wasn’t much time nor thoughts left for the blog, unfortunately.
Some time ago I became director of Galerie Priska Pasquer, Cologne, where I am responsible for the program of Japanese photography. Already in the years before we had some solo shows with Japanese artists at the gallery: Iwao Yamawaki (Modern photography), Eikoh Hosoe (his first solo show in Germany), Daido Moriyama and Rinko Kawauchi. In the beginning, we did not receive much response, but this changed very much in the recent years because Western curators and private collectors alike became more and more aware of the history of Japanese photography and of the quality of the works coming from Japan.
Just a short post after a long hiatus, but I hope to post more in the upcoming months.
I know I wrote a few times about Rinko Kawauchi – with whom I had a very pleasant dinner in Tokyo a few weeks ago -, but since this is the first time that her famous series “Utatane” from 2001 is exhibited in a solo show outside Japan, I thought it is worth to mention it.
Rinko Kawauchi “Uatane”, at Art77, presented by Antoine de Vilmorin (until May 3).
As far as I know there has not been much written about the series and book “Utatane” (in contrary to “Aila”) and which has lead to Rinko’s national and international breakthrough. For “Utatane” (and for her book “Hanabi” [Fireworks]) the artist received the prestigious Kimura Ihei Award and the book was included in the “The Photobook: A History. Vol. 2” by Parr and Badger. Badger wrote a very interesting comment on Rinko and “Utatane” in the photobook anthology:
Just when it seems that everything has been photographed, in every possible way, along comes a photographer, whose work is so original that the medium is renewed. Such a photographer is Rinko Kawauchi, who makes simple, lyrical pictures, so fresh and unusual that they are difficult to describe or classify.
When I went to Japan in the second half of the 1990s 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.
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 Mikiko’s 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 to talk about themselves and to deal with their own identity. Mikiko’s topic is different, she does not speak about herself:
It’s not the first time that I write about Daido Moriyama. The reason is simple: Daido Moriyama is one of my favorite photographers. His photographs and his books – especially the book Shashinyo Sayônara (Farewell Photography) – had a huge impact on my initial idea of Japanese photography. Therefore it had a certain inevitability that soon after we began to work more intensively with Japanese photography at Galerie Priska Pasquer, we did a Daido Moriyama exhibition in 2004. The exhibition took place at the time when Daido Moriyama received the Cultural Award of the German Photographic Society. The award ceremony was held at the Photographische Sammlung / SK-Stiftung Kultur in Cologne (and where I had the pleasure to give the award speech).
Daido Moriyama. Retrospective from 1965
Photographische Sammlung / SK-Stiftung Kultur (Photographic Collection / SK-Culture Foundation)
Sept. 5 – Dec. 12, 2007
At the beginning of September Daido Moriyama was in Cologne again. He came for the opening of his exhibition Daido Moriyama. Retrospective from 1965 which is held at the same place where he received the Culture Award three years ago.
This retrospective, which comprises some 500 photographs, presents the decidedly complex work of Daido Moriyama (b. 1938), one of the most renowned Japanese photographers, from 1965 to the present day. It consists of thirteen series of pictures, largely based on vintage material, and a film presentation. Although Moriyama belongs to Japans post-1945 artist generation, who struck out along radically new aesthetic paths in the post-war period, it is interesting to note that to this day his work has lost none of its currency or artistic scope.