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2014, Apr 24
Keizo Kitajima, “Untitled Records”

I have not written as much about Keizo Kitajima as I would have liked; his work interests me quite a lot, in no small part because of the progression of his career, from black-and-white Moriyama snapshot disciple to crisp, large format color urban landscape photographer. He has produced a number of noteworthy photobooks, but I would like to give a special mention to his project USSR 1991 1, which was realized as a photobook by Little Big Man.

Kitajima has just started a project called Untitled Records, which will consist of 25 exhibitions (to be held four times a year) at photographers’ gallery 2 in Shinjuku. A small, reasonably-priced booklet will accompany each exhibit. The first exhibit, which consisted of three images taken in Tohoku after the earthquake, just closed last week. The good news for people outside of Japan—and indeed, the reason that I’m writing about the show here—is that Kitajima has created a website 3 to track the progress of the project.

I look forward to tracking it myself as a “person outside of Japan,” because I am returning to America in just a matter of months; this September, I will start a PhD program in Art History at UCLA. “Street Level Westwood”? I don’t think so.

2
http://pg-web.net/: Kitajima’s own gallery, and these days my “favorite photo gallery in Tokyo”

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2014, Apr 22
Noted

Roppongi Station

LIRR

These are extreme examples, but I think on some level this post speaks for itself. How to read these images is another question.

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2014, Feb 26
Hikaru Morishita, “Reframing”

© Hikaru Morishita

This series really struck me. That’s a good title, no?

Recently I have been thinking about how, if one had to define “Japanese photography,” one might think about it in terms of a realism, or perhaps simply a modernism. (I’m not sure how far to go in placing this in opposition to a postmodernism…) In any case, it seems to me like Morishita 1 is taking up good modernist problems here, or asking the right modernist questions. I am very curious to see what comes next.


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2014, Feb 21
Shirin Neshat on consciousness

I don’t insist on contemporary artists being politically active but they ought to be politically conscious. And if I could be that blunt, I think the art market has been the biggest factor in determining art movements for the past decade or so; and the money involved has seduced galleries, collectors and artists to becoming super rich and very, very distanced from sociopolitical issues; art has basically become a commodity and about entertainment.

From an interview with Shirin Neshat 1, whose excellent video pieces I was lucky enough to see last year in Kanazawa 2.


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2014, Feb 14
Kazutomo Tashiro in Hong Kong and Marseille

© Kazutomo Tashiro

Kazutomo Tashiro 1 will show his work abroad at two different locations in March.

First, he will hold a solo show of “When Hamayuris Are in Bloom” at The Salt Yard Gallery 2 in Hong Kong. This exhibit runs from 3/1 – 4/13.

Then, he will participate in La Cité, a theater event taking place in Marseille. His photographs will be projected on the side of a building between 3/11 – 3/16. Information about this event 3 is available in French only.

2
http://www.thesaltyard.hk/#!when-coast-lilies-are-in-blossom/c23tp: The title has been translated here as “When Coast Lilies Are in Blossom.” Either one sounds fine to me, but for now I will stick with the title as it was first translated.

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2014, Feb 12
Short review for Tokyo Art Beat

I wrote a short article for Tokyo Art Beat 1 about two shows that are currently up around Tokyo: Tazuko Masuyama’s “Until Everything Becomes a Photograph,” which I introduced very briefly here 2, and “The Exposed #7,” a group show of young Japanese photographers. I think it will be obvious that I am at an early stage of dealing with the ideas introduced in this article.


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2014, Feb 07
Some Tokyo election campaign posters

After Naoki Inose’s tragicomic turn as governor of Tokyo, in which he eventually called himself an “amateur” politician after accepting improper campaign donations 1, there will be an election this coming Sunday. Here are some of the campaign posters.

Yoichi Masuzoe

You’re looking at the next governor of Tokyo, if the polls are to be believed. Masuzoe knows exactly what he’s doing here: flashes dialed up all the way, bouncing off of every surface of his skull—check out the glint in his eyes and the beams of light radiating off of his lips! A mayor right out of a catalog.

Morihiro Hosokawa

Ex-Prime Minister who has teamed up with lion-maned 2 Elvis fanatic 3 ex-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to run on a strong anti-nuclear campaign. His photo rates the highest in terms of visual quality; I like the “artful” crop, and the wood behind him actually looks a lot darker in real life.

Masaichi Igarashi

My man! Even if you can’t understand Japanese, you may enjoy watching Igarashi’s rambling campaign speech 4. Igarashi ought to go down in history along with other notable Tokyo candidates like smooth-talking rocker Yuya Uchida 5 and furious anarchist Koichi Toyama 6. In any case, this photo looks more like a mugshot to me.

Toshio Tamogami

Tamogami is a retired air force officer, and is by far the most conservative entrant in the field. I think his photograph looks quite good; someone did a nice job color-correcting his face and the green background is a nice touch.

Kazuma Ieiri

The poster loudly touts Ieiri’s age, 35. He’s a tech entrepreneur who lists a ton of ideas for the city on his site, some of which seem reasonable. Still, he certainly won’t win this time. Anyway, for all of his tech skills I’m surprised he didn’t hire a better retoucher—his face is totally washed out, and if Tamogami can get himself to look young and sprightly, why can’t the actually young and sprightly guy manage the same?

I just saw this a couple of hours ago before finishing up this post. I’m not sure if all of Hosokawa’s posters have been modified in this way or not, but perhaps someone decided it was time to ditch the “arty” look.

Update 2/12/14: As expected, Masuzoe won the election, despite Hosokawa’s furious late push to switch his campaign posters to this easier-to-understand red version, which I did in fact see pasted up all over the city. Meanwhile, Paul Roquet suggested on Twitter that certain laws may govern the appearance of campaign posters, resulting in their uniform appearance. I couldn’t find any information about such laws, though it would be very interesting to hear about them if they exist. While trying to find this information, though, I did come across a business specializing in election posters 7. Something to keep in mind if you ever decide to run for office here.

Update 4/19/14: Paul Roquet has come across an academic study (it’s behind a paywall) of campaign posters 8 which claims to “present the legal provisions regulating” them.

4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYRQw91lZiM: The key points to take away here are that Tokyo has 13 million people and that we need casinos ASAP

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2014, Feb 05
Eiki Mori wins the 39th Ihee Kimura Photography Award

The news was announced today. This award is given out for a particular book or exhibition, and the judges recognized his book “Intimacy,” published by Nanaroku-sha. (Some photos from the series are up on Mori’s website 1.) Other nominees included Daisuke Yokota and Motoyuki Daifu.


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2014, Feb 03
Kathryn Abbe

1919 – 2014

I owe everything to you, Fuffy. Thank you.

数人の友達は「大往生」という言葉を教えてくれました。おかげさまでこの場合では正しいと思います。

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2014, Jan 23
Tazuko Masuyama, “Until Everything Becomes a Photograph”

"The Final Village Sports Festival," 1986

I highly recommend a visit to the Tazuko Masuyama exhibit at Izu Photo Museum 1, which is up until March 2. Masuyama lived in a mountain village in rural Gifu which was flooded in September of 2006 as part of the construction of a large dam. The dam construction itself took 28 years to complete from the time that it was announced, and Masuyama photographed her village consistently until her death in March 2006. Among many other things, this exhibit speaks to the power of having a personal connection to one’s subject. It sounds like Masuyama’s publications are hard to come by, but the catalog for the show will be out sometime next month.

"City Hall, too, was finally demolished. I couldn't see it well because my eyes were cloudy from the tears, but the lens could take it clearly." 1987

"100 Year Print"

1
http://www.izuphoto-museum.jp/e/exhibition/118680489.html: This excellent site includes a lot of information about Masuyama

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