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.
Her images documentary everyday things, yet could not be described as documentary. They are generally light in tone, yet somehow dark in mood. They are almost hallucinatory, yet seem to capture something fundamental about the psychological mood of modern life.
To be sure, Utatane, the title of her book, means ‘siesta’, which brings in the notion of a dreamlike state, and each image in the book could plausibly be considered as a still from a movie about a dream. The presence of a number of animals – insects, seagulls, koi carp, rabbits – might suggest some kind of Freudian interpretation.
If Kawauchi in conjuring up a dreamlike state, she is also creating a powerful metaphor for life in the contemporary metropolis, which, at least economically, is comfortable for most people, on the surface. The dream evoked in Uatatane is not nightmarish. Nothing much untoward happens, yet there is enough off-kilter to awaken us from our nap feeling vaguely confused, depressed and anxious.
[Quotes: Gerry Badger]