November 2012
2012, Nov 29
Ryuichi Ishikawa’s Okinawan Portraits

© Ryuichi Ishikawa

© Ryuichi Ishikawa

I first met Okinawan photographer Ryuichi Ishikawa at the 2011 Higashikawa Photo Festival 1. Many of the portfolio reviews in Higashikawa are done in a semi-public fashion, so I could watch as he filled an entire table with prints of his color portraits—while still keeping an immense stack in reserve. At the time, Ishikawa’s photographs seemed competent, and certainly showed plenty of energy, as it seemed like he’d photographed every person he’d ever come across. That actually might have been the case, because he uses a Hasselblad with a digital back (an investment which caused his reviewer a small shock).

It’s generally not that fruitful to discuss cameras up front, but in Ishikawa’s case I think it’s worth mentioning, because his newer work shows a significant improvement. On the one hand, he’s gotten better technically, avoiding the 6×6 format trap of always having the subject in the middle of the frame. More importantly, though, it seems like he’s gone a bit deeper in finding his subjects. In each case, the ability to literally shoot for free can only have helped his development. Ishikawa was awarded Honorable Mention at the 2012 Canon New Cosmos of Photography.





http://blog.mcvmcv.net/tag/higashikawa-photo-festival/: The equivalent of Arles in Japan, although on a much smaller scale


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Canon New Cosmos of Photography, Higashikawa Photo Festival, Okinawa, Ryuichi Ishikawa

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2012, Nov 13
Aya Takada, “Tamako”

© Aya Takada

Japan has more than its fair share of abandoned buildings (called haikyo), and there is an entire culture around photographing them. For the most part, haikyo photography is the domain of truly extreme camera nerdery, but that’s certainly not the fault of the buildings themselves.

In her most recent handmade book, “Tamako,” Aya Takada shows one way that haikyo photography could move away from a simple ode to trespassing. She looks at the texture of abandoned things, in an entirely unsentimental way. The title of the book (“Lake Tama”) gives a hint that Takada is interested in more than just these buildings, and she’s included images of the nature that surrounds them. A small map illustrates the general area, which lies deep on the Seibu line, while the book is wrapped in a cloth that matches Seibu’s own trademark yellow train.

© Aya Takada

“Tamako” seems like it isn’t finished yet, but as a hand-produced edition of 30, it is an excellent book dummy. “Tamako” is available during Paris Photo at KiOSK 1, a pop-up bookstore outside of Le Bal. If you’re in Paris, you can come by KiOSK on Sunday, November 18 2 at noon for a signing with Daisuke Yokota and Hiroshi Takizawa, while I’m presenting the second MCV MCV title, Wataru Yamamoto’s “Drawing a Line,” at 12:30 on the same day.

© Aya Takada


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Aya Takada

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2012, Nov 04
Capsule reviews, October 2012

© Nobuyoshi Araki

Nobuyoshi Araki, “Sentimental Sky” at Rat Hole Gallery

It’s unlikely that this show would convert any non-believers to the Araki camp, but for those of us who are already in his camp, this was a good if not quite transcendent show. Araki recently moved out of the Setagaya apartment that served as the backdrop for so many of his photographs, and the centerpiece of this exhibit was a digital loop of color photographs of the sky taken from this most iconic of Japanese balconies. None of the images were particularly stunning, but the video worked as a whole. A young photographer could never get away with this kind of work, but then again, they’re not Araki. Some black and white photographs taken on the balcony, a few paintings of Yoko and a strange series of sky photos projected onto a nude Kaori rounded out the show.

Alejandro Chaskielberg, “Alejandro Chaskielberg” at 916 Gallery

916 Gallery is an incredible space run by the top dog in Japan’s commercial photography game, Yoshihiko Ueda. I thought that such things didn’t exist in Tokyo: 916 is a massive gallery on the 6th floor of an industrial building way out in Hamamatsucho. Forget Shinjuku, what’s more Blade Runner than shimmering office buildings, industrial warehouses, a useless monorail whizzing overhead? At any rate, the space must be seen to be believed, but if they continue to run out tame exhibitions like this, it will all be for naught.

Sakiko Nomura, Ryudai Takano, Yurie Nagashima, “Missing You” at Hikarie 8/ Cube 1, 2, 3

Hikarie is a new mall in Shibuya with an art space on the 8th floor. This was a three person show of photographers who I suppose could be connected through the genre of “personal photography.” The strongest connection you might find, though, was that you could walk away with a new bedding set courtesy of Nomura bedsheets and a Takano pillow. Each photographer showed representative work: Nomura’s intimate black and white photographs, Nagashima’s atmospheric work from “Swiss,” and Takano’s abstract portraits of male bodies. Mostly forgettable, except for a long vertical strip of paper over Takano’s largest (and most explicit) photo. I thought it had been placed by the gallery to spare passersby the apparently unthinkable trauma of seeing a male organ as they took a break from shopping, but it was actually Takano’s own choice.

Shinya Arimoto, “ariphoto selection vol. 3” at Totem Pole Photo Gallery

Arimoto holds a few exhibitions every year, usually showing his recent street portraits shot in Shinjuku. This time, he was showing work from Tibet, which he’d taken in 2009 on assignment for Playboy. (Arimoto had spent a much longer period of time there before.) There were a couple of nice portraits, especially one of a Tibetan biker, and as always the prints were extremely well-made. Still, something seemed missing: most of the photos were a little too straight-on, leaving little impression. Arimoto once did a show which consisted pretty much of portraits of bugs he’d found in the forest; at the time I thought the work was too strange, but it’s stayed with me. I would be surprised if the same thing happened with this show.

Haruto Hoshi, “St Photo Exhibition 14: Osaka” at 3rd District Gallery

Hoshi remarked wistfully that it would be years before anyone saw the value in his photos, and it does seem ironically true that snapshots of any kind—”street” or not—look freshest when they’ve been pulled out of storage after being forgotten for a few decades. Hoshi’s work is ready to be appreciated now, though, as the heir to the Katsumi Watanabe/Seiji Kurata lineage of “deep” street photography. For the moment, it looks like he’s about to find a new working rhythm, and try shooting some different subjects. He’s built up a significant archive of photos over the last five or six years, and now he’s going to sit back and edit. I hope there isn’t a decades-long wait before it sees the light of day again.


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Haruto Hoshi, Nobuyoshi Araki, Ryudai Takano, Sakiko Nomura, Shinya Arimoto, Yurie Nagashima

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