Tag Archives: Japanese Photographer

Daido Moriyama printing show @Tate Modern, London

Our Associate editor, Brad Feuerhelm on the rare opportunity to create his own limited-edition, photo book with legendary Japanese photographer, Daido Moriyama.

I was lucky enough to get to the Tate Modern last week to take part in making a book with Daido Moriyama along with a bevy of other photography aficionados. The idea of the printing show has been successfully resurrected by curator, writer and Goliga Press head Ivan Vartanian for the Tate’s current show Klein + Moriyama, which in itself is a great behemoth of a dual retrospective.

Mr. Vartanian has taken his cue from the original printing show that Moriyama did in New York City in 1974 wherein he notoriously and, in perfect participatory harmony, assembled a small workshop in the commercial gallery and invited interested parties to become part of the performance of book arts selection. Members were allowed to pick an amount of Moriyama’s images to collate into their own book. A highly probable gesture to the unique and collaboration bereft of the pressures of commerce normally associated with a commercial gallery endeavour. This seemed to be a kind of citizen artist project with a nod to the happenings of the 60’s. Collaborative. Inspirational. Effective. 

On the sixth floor of the Tate Modern with its expansive views over a lovely sunny London, participants were asked to repeat the process whereby they are allowed to pick through a pre-selected amount of Moriyama’s works to collate and produce their own book on the spot with other members allotted the same time. It was a hubbub of friendly, weekend activity with museum curators milling about with the public and of the photographic enthusiasts on the same level, the level of artist. The sort of open experience is one of the many reasons the London photographic community has been greatly enabled by the Tate’s push towards photography under the tutelage of Simon Baker, chief in staff of bringing photography howling down on London, the beast tamed and now sharply in the spotlight.

Before entering the sanctity of the Tate, I had already decided to reduce my knowledge of Daido Moriyama into one image and to repeat it over and over, making a repetitive, yet completely unique object barring any other paraphoto nerds had not beat me to it in 1974 at the original staging or at the recent Tokyo happening. At $40,000 for an original copy of the 1974 book, I think I will decline to pursue its possibility. In selecting an image of lips, I felt that I selected an iconic summation of the desire in Moriyama’s work. My ultimate choice would have been the ‘stray dog’ image, which I can still envision as a single image book.

Moriyama, ever the provocateur, was clever to exclude ‘stray dog’ and the famous tights image for his pre-selection of works available in the book making process. I remember chuckling on the way in when I realised it was not there, knowing he had got the best of me under his controlled and fairly so, tyrannical application of what we could choose. The images on display were gorgeous and the second-guessing about making it a more straightforward book still swayed to repetition and the single idea/image.

After selecting your images on a card (all cleverly organised), you give the selection to a printing assistant who then goes through the process of stapling the images to a pre-made screen printed cover of which there are two choices to pick from. I went blue. The title… Menu

I waited while my book was assembled to have my number called out to retrieve it from Simon Baker. My Menu served, a deserved light chuckle from him at its insistence to be different and I was sent off to wonder in the big smoke for the rest of my Sunday, feeling that the experience was well worth the obscenely cheap £20 ticket. Whether I felt I collaborated or parasitically stole myself into a vain collaboration with Mr. Moriyama is another matter entirely!

Brad Feuerhelm

Ceremonies of Disappearance: Kimiko Yoshida’s Critique of Identity

“The preoccupation with I has become a cliché in contemporary art,” says Kimiko Yoshida. The Japanese photographer challenges that cliché by creating large, color photos of herself in which she wears elaborate costumes that reference a wide range of subjects, from haute couture and indigenous cultures to the canon of Western painting. By constantly changing what at first appears to be a self-portrait, Yoshida says, “I am basically saying that there is no such thing as a self-portrait,” she says. “Each of these photographs is actually a ceremony of disappearance. It is not an emphasis of identity, but the opposite—an erasure of identity.”

Born in Tokyo in 1963, Yoshida came of age in a tradition-bound culture where the conservative attitude towards the role of women left her alienated and unhappy. She studied literature and worked in fashion, which allowed her to hone her creative eye, but she remained frustrated. Over her father’s objections, she enrolled in the Tokyo College of Photography. Even after she had her degree in hand, she felt her options for a creative career in Japan were limited and moved to France to escape those stifling confines.

“Since I fled my homeland to escape the mortifying servitude and humiliating fate of Japanese women, I amplified through my art a feminist stance of protest against contemporary clichés of seduction, voluntary servitude of women, identity and the stereotypes of gender,” Yoshida says.

Yoshida critiques the idea of a firm and unchanging identity in a variety of ways, most obviously by physically changing it. In her “Brides” series, she often photographs herself in indigenous garb that she borrows from museums. Meanwhile, in her “Paintings” series, she and her husband repurpose items from the archives of Spanish fashion designer Paco Rabanne. But no matter what the source material is, Yoshida riddles the final product with playful anachronisms and cross-cultural references that undermine its perceived authenticity. The Paco Rabanne garments and accessories, made between 1965 and 2000, are themselves full of unusual materials, from plastic bottles to CD-roms. Yoshida adds a twist by refusing to wear them as intended: shoes become headdresses while dresses become hats. Yet another twist comes when you realize that Yoshida’s odd remixes actually reference paintings from Western art history, from Caravaggio to Picasso to Warhol. The fact that many of her images are nearly monochromatic threatens to drown whatever individuality that may remain. Finally, Yoshida often displays her images on walls in overwhelming numbers, thus minimizing their specialness.

The end result is evocative of Cindy Sherman, another artist who dons costumes in front of the camera and who even references art history like Yoshida. And while the meanings of Sherman’s work reside in its surfaces, Yoshida’s work provides the artist with an internal, metaphysical space. “Art is above all the experience of transformation,” explains Yoshida. “All that’s not me, that’s what interests me. To be there where I think I am not, to disappear where I think I am, that is what matters.” In the end, perhaps the photographs themselves are simply evidence of this performance. But it is interesting that Yoshida, an artist who is driven by the denial of the self, has made them with such a singular and memorable voice.

Yoshida has solo shows at St. Jakobshalle in Basel, Switzerland, and the Musée Pavillon Vendôme-Dobler in Aix-en-Provence, France, both opening June 13. Her work is also in a group show at the Musée de la Tapisserie in Angers, France that opens June 29. More of her work can be seen here.

Kimiko Yoshida

           “The preoccupation with ‘I’ has become a cliché in contemporary art,” says Japanese photographer Kimiko Yoshida.  For over a decade, she has created large, color photos of herself in which she wears elaborate costumes that reference a wide range of subjects, from haute couture to indigenous cultures to the canon of Western painting to the Zen minimalism of her own culture.  By constantly changing what at first appears to be a self-portrait, “I am basically saying that there is no such thing as a self-portrait. Each of these photographs is actually a ceremony of disappearance. It is not an emphasis of identity, but the opposite, an erasure of identity.”
Born in Tokyo in 1963, Yoshida came of age in a tradition-bound culture where the attitude towards the role of women left her alienated and unhappy. She studied literature and worked in fashion.  It allowed her to hone her eye, but she remained frustrated.  Despite her father’s objections, she enrolled in the Tokyo College of Photography.  Even with her degree in hand, she felt her options for a creative career in Japan were limited. She knew she had to escape the stifling confines of her life and she decided to move to France. (restricted constricted circumscribed limited stifling )
“Since I fled my homeland to escape the mortifying servitude and humiliating fate of Japanese women,” Yoshida says, “I amplified through my art a feminist stance of protest against contemporary clichés of seduction, against voluntary servitude of women, against ‘identity’ defined by appurtenances,”—or accessories—“and ‘communities,’ against the stereotypes of ‘gender’ and the determinism of heredity.” Yoshida came to think of the notion of a solid, permanent self as a “fantasy.”  She quotes the Freudian psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, “The ego is constructed like an onion: one could peel it and discover the successive identifications which have constituted it.”  There is no Kimiko, Kimiko is saying: “the being is pitted; it has no central core.”
Yoshida critiques the idea of a firm and unchanging identity in a variety of ways, most obviously by changing it.  In her “Brides” series, she often photographs herself in indigenous garb from around the world that she borrows from museums.  In her “Paintings” series, she and her husband repurpose items from the archives of Spanish fashion designer Paco Rabanne.  No matter what the source material is, Yoshida riddles the final product with playful anachronisms and cross-cultural references that undermine its perceived authenticity.  The Paco Rabanne garments and accessories, made between 1965 and 2000, are themselves full of unusual materials, from plastic bottles to CD-roms.  Yoshida adds a twist by refusing to wear them as intended: shoes become headdresses, dresses become hats, etc.  Yet another twist comes when you realize that Yoshida’s odd remixes actually reference paintings from Western art history, from Caravaggio to Picasso to Warhol.  And she places these figures, which often display a baroque opulence, against featureless backgrounds that recall the minimalism of Zen art.

Yoshida not only changes her identity, but she does it a lot—she’s made over 300 of these elaborate, time-consuming images since 2000.  No one character appears to get special treatment: they are all centered in square frames and afforded only a single photograph each.  What individuality that may remain often threatens to bleed into oblivion, as many of her images, such as “The Capricious Girl,” are nearly monochromatic.  Her makeup doesn’t enliven or articulate her character, as in the West, but rather effaces it, as in the tradition of the Japanese geisha.  Ultimately, Kimiko the person disappears behind these suspect masks into a wall of color.

           Cindy Sherman is another artist who dons costumes in front of the camera and who even references art history like Yoshida.  But while Sherman’s post-modernism feels ironic and satirical, and her craft intentionally clumsy, Yoshida’s work feels solemn and majestic, and her craft highly polished. And while the meanings of Sherman’s work reside in its flimsy surfaces, Yoshida’s work provides the artist with an internal, metaphysical space to metamorphose.  “Art is above all the experience of transformation,” explains Yoshida. “All that’s not me, that’s what interests me. To be there where I think I am not, to disappear where I think I am, that is what matters.”  In the end, perhaps the photographs themselves are simply evidence of this performance.  But it is interesting that Yoshida, an artist who is driven by the denial of the self, has made them with such a singular and memorable voice.

In the end, the photographs themselves are simply evidence of this performance.  It is interesting that Yoshida, an artist who is driven by the denial of the self, speaks with such a singular and memorable voice.

Yoshida has solo shows at St. Jakobshalle in Basel, Switzerland, and the Musée Pavillion Vendôme-Dobler in Aix-en-Provence, France, both opening June 13.  Her work is also in a group show at the Musée de la Tapisserie in Angers, France that opens June 29. More of her work can be seen here.

Myles Little is an associate photo editor at TIME.

Akiko Takizawa @Daiwa Foundation, London


At the heart of Japanese photographer Akiko Takizawa’s work lies feelings of dislocation, displacement and isolation. Her black and white photographs, unsettling yet peaceful, are imbued with a sense of loss and longing while retaining that vital glimmer of hope. Dim shafts of light creep into dusty, shadow-shrouded interiors or softly illuminate barren landscapes. The images seem suspended between a dreamlike and wakeful state, teetering at the threshold of consciousness. The line between sleep and death, death and life is tantalisingly blurred. 

Her most recent exhibition, Over the Parched Field, on display at Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation, London from 18 January to 1 March, showcases a selection of collotype prints of Takizawa’s work from the last six years, photographs she describes as “semi-autobiographical”. Taken at the shrines of Osorezan (Fear Mountain) and Goshogawara in county Aomori in the north of Japan, they depict holy places that were created to memorialiseand heal the spirits of children who have passed away. Stone statues adorn the volcanic landscape, protecting the souls of the deceased, while ‘bridal’ shrines are draped with mementoes, left by parents for their children when they come of age. Takizawa describes it as a place of calm that heightened her sense of solitude.

Loss is obviously a central theme in her work – both personal and the loss of others – although the pictures she takes are very much for her. “I take photographs for my own sake,” remarks Takizawa. “In one way I’m documenting what I see but what appears [in my pictures] has a more dreamlike quality. Sometimes it feels like it’s not completely up to me what appears in the photographs. But I feel a need to communicate what I see.”

Takizawaalso says she uses her photography to communicate with relatives who are no longer alive. “I feel that my camera acts as an antenna to receive signals carrying urgent messages from the lost lives and objects that fill the air around us.” She adds: “We think of time as a single line but people talk about there being another time, and that concept interests me. I feel a sense of déja-vu, though not necessarily having lived a past life. Maybe living and dying are on the same line. When I look at photographs of dead people I almost feel that their lives are continuing within the photographs.”

Takizawa describes her work as the embodiment of feeling like a stranger in her own country, and indeed she admits that it was not until she left Japan that she could begin to reflect upon her complex relationship with her background. This distance allowed her to begin to make sense of the photographs she took there. “I had to physically remove myself from Japan in order to work on [the photographs,]” she confesses. “Even though I love Japan, I feel I don’t fit in, although I always want to photograph my country.”

Gemma Padley is the Features Editor at Amateur Photographer Magazine and is currently studying a Masters in the History of Art with Photography at Birkbeck University.

Daido Moriyama at Aperture Nov 4-5

Aperture is thrilled to announce PRINTING SHOW – TKY, an exclusive event and exhibition featuring influential Japanese photographer Daido Moriyama! Organized by Ivan Vartanian of Goliga.

PRINTING SHOW is a recreation of Daido Moriyama’s 1974 performance of the same name. Following the format of the original performance as closely as possible, in lieu of prints mounted on the gallery walls, visitors to the gallery will find the photographer stationed at a photocopy machine duplicating his photographic prints. As was done forty years ago, these photocopied sheets will be assembled and staple-bound with a silk-screened cover printed in the gallery space during the performance.

In 1974, the ad hoc photobook that resulted from this process, Another Country—New York, featured images from a trip Moriyama had made to New York in 1971. The photobook, which was produced as ephemera for the performance, has since become a rare collector’s item. In the 2011 recreation, the work featured will include a selection of images made in Tokyo over the last fifteen years.

Visitors to the gallery will be active collaborators in the photobook-making process. In 1974, the photographer sequenced and collated the photocopied sheets, leaving the choice of silkscreen cover to the visitor. In 2011, the visitor will select, edit, and sequence the sheets of the ad hoc photobook, titled TKY. Visitors will choose from a menu of fifty-four double-sided photocopied sheets that will be on view in the gallery space. Visitors will also make a choice of cover. All copies made during the performance interval will be signed by the photographer.

Daido Moriyama has been publishing and exhibiting his photography since the late 1960s, with a bibliography of over 300 monographs to his name. A major retrospective, Daido Moriyama: Stray Dog, originated in 2000 at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and subsequently toured internationally to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Japan Society in New York, Fotomuseum Winterthur in Switzerland, and numerous other venues. He is a recipient of the Cultural Award of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Photographie. Exhibitions include a major retrospective, On the Road, presented at the Osaka National Museum of Art from June to October 2011, and William Klein/Daido Moriyama at Tate Modern from October 2012 to January 2013.

Click here to purchase tickets to the event Friday Nov 4, Session 2–4 pm

Click here to purchase tickets to the event Friday, Nov 4, Session 6–9 pm

Click here to purchase tickets to the event Saturday, Nov 5, Session 12–3 pm

Click here to purchase tickets to the event Saturday, Nov 5, Session 5–8 pm

Presented by Aperture Foundation and organized by Ivan Vartanian of Goliga, PRINTING SHOW—TKY is made possible, in part, with support from David Solo; The Japan Foundation, New York; Hôtel Americano, New York; and Performa 11.

 

Review: Cary Markerink, Memory Traces

I should start by saying that this review is long overdue. This is partly due to the fact that my blogging activity has ground to a halt of late, but also because of Memory Traces itself. The book is an intimidating object consisting of one oversized (30.5 x 41 cm) volume weighing in at a hefty 202 pages accompanied by two smaller books, ‘Höffding Step’ and ‘Dark Star’, inset into a custom cardboard case. Memory Traces is not only intimidating but unwieldy. This is not a book that can be casually flicked through: it requires space (if only to support its weight and size) and time to get through its complex layout made up of gatefolds and double-gatefolds of different sizes. Its three-book structure is also complex and of course there is no easy instruction manual provided to tell you how to get started. However, while these first observations may come across as criticisms, it is precisely because Memory Traces is such a difficult book that it is so unique.

Sarajevo, Hrasno 1997

The central book in the trilogy consists of a series of large format landscape photographs that were made in Sarajevo; Hiroshima and Nagasaki; Berlin, Bitterfeld-Wolfen and Ronneburg; Bikini Island and Nam Island; Chernobyl; Khe San and My Lai. These images all depict places that have been deeply affected by recent man-made conflicts or disasters. However, Markerink’s images are far removed from the inflated drama of what has become known as ‘ruin porn’. His photographs of Sarajevo, My Lai or Chernobyl reveal places that seem to be defined by the scars of their past. As the Japanese photographer Shomei Tomatsu said of Nagasaki, these are places where it seems as if “time has stopped”. Memory Traces also depicts landscapes, such as those of Hiroshima or Berlin, that show few visible signs of past traumatic events. Although these cities are still defined in many ways by their history, their landscapes are in the process of being radically transformed by the objectives of economic growth.

You could say that Memory Traces deals with the different ways that history manifests itself within the landscape. However, it is as concerned with the present and the future as with the past. One of the most remarkable things about the imagery in this book is its treatment of time: the locations that Markerink has photographed all have troubling pasts, but these images do not give the sense of looking back. Instead they raise questions of how the past is carried forward and transformed as time passes. Although it is made up entirely of landscape photographs, this is fundamentally a book of big ideas. Markerink is not interested in the formal aspects of landscape, but rather in how landscape acts as a mirror for culture, for society in general. In ‘Höffding Step’, a book of text combining travel diaries, reflections on contemporary culture with Markerink’s views on the changing nature of photography, Memory Traces reveals itself to have even greater and broader aspirations.

'Moonset over Ground Zero Able & Baker A-bomb test shots (Bikini Island) and Bravo H-bomb test shot (Nam Island), Bikini Atoll – 1999'

With Memory Traces, Markerink has created an object that is designed to create the space for us to stop and think, a space that is essential when dealing with such ambitious subjects. Everything about the way it is made — the book’s huge size, its use of gatefolds, etc. — seems to be designed to slow down the reading process as much as possible. This is a book that also made me think about the way that we read photobooks. To use Markerink’s own description, Memory Traces is an “experience” with many entry and exit points rather than a book that can simply be read from start to finish.

If all of this sounds a little lofty, that is because it is: I doubt that you will ever come across a more ambitious photobook. It is a project that Markerink worked on for over 10 years, one which he describes as a gift he decided to make to himself for his 50th birthday “as a means to come to terms with (his) culture and (his) position within it.” It is a book that swims directly against the current of these times in which images are made, distributed and consumed and discarded in a matter of seconds. It will most likely bewilder you, frustrate you, confuse you and probably keep you coming back for more. Like Terence Malick’s Tree of Life, it is not without its flaws, but it is rare to come across projects that are this outrageously ambitious and for that alone Memory Traces is worth seeking out.

Ronneburg, Uran Tagebau Restloch, 2001

Cary Markerink, Memory Traces. Ideas on Paper (self-pub., clothbound hardcover, 30.5 x 41 cm, 202 pages together with two small booklets, ‘Höffding Step’ and ‘Dark Star’ 12 x 16 cm in a printed box, 2009).

Rating: Highly Recommended

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Ten Years On

Before the tragedy of 9/11, Hiroshi Watanbe captured an iconic and evocative image of the World Trade Center, taken from Ellis Island. It is an amazing image, and became even more so after the events of that day. I am thrilled to see it used for such a meaningful purpose…

TEN YEARS ON: A Tribute in Music to Commemorate 9/11



As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, people across the globe are looking for ways to connect and commemorate. Not only will some share in moments of silence, but also in prayer and in remembrance. Others, still, may find solace in music and in song.

For those looking to commemorate 9/11 through music, platinum selling Welsh recording artist Jem has compiled an album in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of 9/11, on behalf of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. The album entitled ‘Ten Years On – A collection of songs in remembrance of September 11th 2001’ comprises moving reflective songs by an amazing caliber of artists whose heartfelt lyrics and music will bring people together in remembrance on this monumental day.

Jem was inspired to create something special and memorable for the families and to connect all worldwide on this landmark anniversary because of her personal connection to the day. In turn raising awareness and funds for the valuable work fulfilled by the 9/11 Memorial.

The artists have all kindly donated their songs along with acclaimed California based Japanese photographer Hiroshi Watanabe who donated the cover photograph, ‘Ellis Island 2, New York’, a print of which resides in the permanent collection at Houston’s Museum of Modern Art.

The album is released on September 1st 2011, on iTunes, Amazon MP3 and on the website.

Ten Years On

Before the tragedy of 9/11, Hiroshi Watanbe captured an iconic and evocative image of the World Trade Center, taken from Ellis Island. It is an amazing image, and became even more so after the events of that day. I am thrilled to see it used for such a meaningful purpose…

TEN YEARS ON: A Tribute in Music to Commemorate 9/11



As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, people across the globe are looking for ways to connect and commemorate. Not only will some share in moments of silence, but also in prayer and in remembrance. Others, still, may find solace in music and in song.

For those looking to commemorate 9/11 through music, platinum selling Welsh recording artist Jem has compiled an album in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of 9/11, on behalf of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. The album entitled ‘Ten Years On – A collection of songs in remembrance of September 11th 2001’ comprises moving reflective songs by an amazing caliber of artists whose heartfelt lyrics and music will bring people together in remembrance on this monumental day.

Jem was inspired to create something special and memorable for the families and to connect all worldwide on this landmark anniversary because of her personal connection to the day. In turn raising awareness and funds for the valuable work fulfilled by the 9/11 Memorial.

The artists have all kindly donated their songs along with acclaimed California based Japanese photographer Hiroshi Watanabe who donated the cover photograph, ‘Ellis Island 2, New York’, a print of which resides in the permanent collection at Houston’s Museum of Modern Art.

The album is released on September 1st 2011, on iTunes, Amazon MP3 and on the website.