Where: Chinretsukan Gallery (The University Museum, Tokyo University of the Arts)
When: March 18 - April 5, 2017 (10am-6pm, free admission)
This is a show organized by the impressively named Department of Arts Studies and Curatorial Practices, Graduate School of Global Arts, Tokyo University of the Arts. That title has the word “Art” three times, so yeah, those coming for Art will not be disappointed. It’s held on the campus of the top Art school in the nation- so there is Art all over the place.
The English guide to this show states: “What the exhibition sheds light on is ‘Super-subjective photography’, which confronts overwhelming reality and tries to open up possibilities in new forms of communication at deeply emotional and psychological levels.”
This is where I have to take a step back and admit something- I understand that curating is a skill, and that a good exhibition is not simply the quality of the Artwork shown but the overall thread which the director of an exhibition binds a collection of work towards the narrative they wish to explore.
But viewing well over a decade’s worth of curated multi-artist shows at the Tokyo Metro Museum of Photography has reduced my expectations as to what these kinds of show might be. I won’t try to work my way through multi-paragraph curator statements inside the front door anymore- I know I couldn’t tell you even three full titles of major exhibitions I’ve seen in Japan. We shouldn’t have to take the words of intent by any curator or artist at face value- intent might be a starting point but it’s not what work should be judged against. My approach to photography/Art exhibitions like this is “Super-subjective”- - as far as I’m concerned, every show anywhere could be titled “Let’s Look At More Photographs.”
And this one delivers.
-Two gigantic silver gelatin prints by Daido Moriyama? You gotta see to believe.
-A dozen C-prints from Rinko Kawauchi’s utatane masterpiece? Always a pleasure.
-A dark room with a slideshow of Takuma Nakahira’s For a Language to Come projected on a wall from the floor to the top of the 20ft ceiling? Breathtaking.
-Seven silver-gelatin prints from Nobuyoshi Araki’s Sentimental Journey / Winter Journey series? Thank you. On Araki’s pictures the guide noted that “the works obtain more acutely comprehended reality rather than authenticity apprehended objectively” Hunh? Just… just LOOK at the pictures. That’s what it’s all about. It’s all there, right there in them.
There are some other photographs and Art in the show, too- one Art I liked was an odd installation of hovering/suspended miniature japanese rooftops.
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The text I was given stated that in this exhibition curators hope that “viewers may find fluttering breaths of such ‘uncertainty’ which have been surely succeeded across the generations of our shifting contemporary age”. I don’t know… I’m pretty sure my fluttering breaths were due to getting my nose six inches from Araki’s prints for a few minutes.
Maybe I’m being too cynical- it might not flutter the breaths of everyone but it’s worth checking out if you are in Ueno before April 5th.