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Takashi Homma
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2014, Nov 12
To hell with good intentions

There is a 30-minute video floating around the internet called “Reely and Truly,” shot by fashion photographer Tyron Lebon. It is effectively a series of what we could call “studio visits” with photographers, in which they explain their work in a very well-shot and well-edited clip. The entire video, actually, is shot on various stocks of film, and to the video’s credit, it does not trumpet this fact loudlysurely the last thing that any of us needs is another harangue about the “authenticity” of film. Here I have more or less run out of good things to say about the video, and I will now list a few bothersome things about it:

All men. Not literally of course, it just feels that way.

Fashion. No knock on Teller, but when he’s given top billing status, I can only think: “they picked the wrong German!” There are certainly people unrelated to fashion here—it can hardly be a coincidence that the most illuminating segment is with Fumiko Imano—but the momentum of the video pushes us in this direction. Scenes of Sean Vegezzi trespassing through the depths (and heights) of Manhattan represent the video’s worst fashion tendency, which is of course its misplaced gravitas.

Asia. We begin in the Southern Hemisphere, where we get a taste of “wild Asia” in Bangkok, before ten seconds of poor Aveek Sen’s disembodied voice is given to represent something (?) of India. Then on to Japan, of course, where we seebut do not hear—a caricature of Nobuyoshi Araki. Then Lebon talks to Takashi Homma, a cunning, perhaps even dangerous man who needs to be approached with guile to spare. Here, Homma has taken Lebon for a ride, masterfully spinning the tall tale of Japanese exceptionalism once again.

No Africa?

I’m sure that the director of the video would be able to explain in all sincerity why certain choices were made, and so on and so forth. To quote Mclusky 1 by way of Ivan Ilich 2, though, to hell with good intentions…



							

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Fumiko Imano, Nobuyoshi Araki, Takashi Homma

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TOP
2011, Apr 08
Takashi Homma’s “New Documentary” exhibit EXCLUSIVE PIX

 

With my platform over at La Pura Vida, I feel like Street Level Japan is probably no longer the right place to really focus on introducing Japanese photographers, which is the main thing that I want to use the internet for. This blog should start to become a bit looser, like back in the day when I was living in SF, couldn’t talk to anyone about photography, and for a while set myself a goal of posting once a day just to see if I could. I don’t think I’ll even have as much time now to post things quickly like I’d want to, but we’ll see. If things are going well this blog will become more like a notebook, i.e. much less serious than the things I’m posting more “publicly” — with the notion that the audience here is still rather intimate.

Yesterday was the opening of Takashi Homma’s ambitiously titled retrospective exhibit “New Documentary,” which is up at the Art Gallery in Tokyo Opera City. (If you’re going to go check it out, it’s really also worth visiting the NTT Communications Space on the 4th floor of Opera City, which shows technology-based art that’s usually very satisfying.) World-renowned blogger/curator extraordinnaire Marc “eyecurious“ Feustel was in Tokyo, and since he’s down with SLJ he let me sneak in with him.

The exhibit is very large: there are six different spaces, showing about eight bodies of work total. I like Homma’s work but don’t know it particularly well, so I recognized a couple of things like “Tokyo and My Daughter” and “Tokyo Suburbia.” The presentation of the photos is generally really good, they’re mounted under borderless glass which highlights the idea of surfaces, something that kind of defines Homma’s work in a way.

 

security guard: ah you can’t take pictures in here. are you with the press? me: i write a blog. him: ok i guess

 

The most exciting part of the show for me was a small corridor where Homma had stacked up a bunch of softcover books for people to flip through. This is titled “Reconstruction of 1991-2010,” and it’s all black and white reproductions of his work, sometimes as it’s appeared in magazines or other places. The quality of the books felt very disposable, which was nice. It also led me to believe that you could walk off with one, Felix Gonzalez-Torres style, but that turned out not to be the case.

 

The boxes weren’t filled with anything (I think)

 

on the right is one of the more emblematic images of tokyo suburbia, as verified by google

 

There was another room with his McDonald’s photos mounted on the floor. This work has been published in a series of zines.

 

 

This show certainly gives you a lot to chew on. I’ve never had the chance to see his “classic” Tokyo work in person, so even though it’s not new, it’s nice to be able to think about it clearly. He seems to be taking pictures of almost nothing, but then small things begin to stand out, and you wonder if he really “meant” it that way, or if other people can see it too. The printing quality is very high of course, I guess it goes without saying but the pictures you’re seeing here don’t do the show real justice. On another level, it’s nice to see his work presented all at once, and to observe how certain themes in his work have developed over time. Then there’s also something about the way that he’s chosen to re-present his work, giving it this title, and reproducing everything in the “Reconstruction” book, as if it could all be boiled down to some black and white photocopies. It’s up for a while, so I’ll definitely go back again. Recommended, obviously.

BONUS CRAPPY CELEB SHOT:

araki is good with children, no joke. not shown are the 20 other people also snapping this photo, who are standing in the half circle described by a radius of 15 feet extending from his person.

							

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Nobuyoshi Araki, Takashi Homma

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