Minoru Shimizu
2017, Aug 04
Shimizu Minoru’s criteria for Canon New Cosmos

The website for the Canon New Cosmos of Photography competition includes statements by various judges 1—this year’s crop includes a number of international figures like Alec Soth, Dayanita Singh and Sandra Phillips. I was taken with Shimizu Minoru’s statement, which shows his usual rigor, if not outright harshness:

Abstract catch copy discharged irresponsibly by people who do not look at photographs―words such as “real,” “natural,” or “wild”―is not permitted. Even if it is desirable to take photographs about photography, or to have a good eye for looking at photographs, it is pointless to merely consult the history of photography on its own.

Please be aware that work which relies on context (the death of a family member, the death of a loved one, natural disaster, etc) almost immediately becomes homogeneous. Instead of “a close friend,” select your ideal subject with the utmost care.
Instead of “a photograph of nothing,” show something after thinking, looking, and selecting it with utmost care.
Digital technology is already no longer “something that is not an analog photograph”; it opens on to an unknown territory.
Something that connects this unknown territory to the future and to the past, something that rediscovers “photography”―that’s the kind of expression I’m waiting for.


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Canon New Cosmos of Photography, Minoru Shimizu, Translation

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2013, Jul 09
Minoru Shimizu on Lieko Shiga

A spread from "Rasen Kaigan"

Meaningful photography criticism in Japan is generally practiced at the academic level, which means that the discussion almost never reaches the world of photographers. In the first part of 2013, Minoru Shimizu’s articles on Lieko Shiga 1 proved an exception to the rule; it seemed like they were on the tip of everyone’s tongue. Certainly, Shimizu was able to reach a more general audience by (very cannily) describing Shiga’s work as “B-class horror.” Any reader who looks beyond this catchphrase, though, will find that Shimizu is not trying to demolish Shiga—he’s harsh, yes, but he offers her Sendai Mediatheque exhibit very high praise. Instead, his anger is reserved for Japanese “critics” who, in Shimizu’s view, write only “idle chatter, revealing nothing about photography itself.” Here we have the real motivation for these articles, but it’s easy to imagine that this particular critique fell on deaf ears.

Of course I’m only writing about these articles now because they have recently been translated into English on the ART-iT site. Here are links to part 1 2 and part 2 3.


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Lieko Shiga, Minoru Shimizu

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