Seen: TIBETAN WAY
Who: Shinya Arimoto / website
Where: Totem Pole Photo Gallery, Shinjuku
When: September 27 - November 2, 2016. Open 12 - 7pm, closed Mondays
Shinya Arimoto spent the winter of 1998 hitchhiking across Tibet, riding along in the Dong Feng trucks that traverse the mountain passes. He became so familiar with these vehicles he learned how to repair them during his travels. In his camera bag he carried 70 rolls of 220 film, a Rolleiflex TLR, a Konica Hexar 35mm point-and-shoot for black and white film, and a Pentax 67 and two lenses with which to shoot Kodak PCN-III color negative film. The monochrome work he made from this trip won him the prestigious Taiyo Prize, but save for an appearance in a 1999 issue of Asahi Camera and an exhibition at Studio Ebis Gallery in 2000, his color 6x7 pictures from the trip are relatively unknown.
TIBETAN WAY is comprised of portraits, taken with a wide-angle 55mm lens, and landscapes, shot with a standard 105mm lens on his Pentax 67. Using these lenses the opposite of what most people would think of as the “right” way is precisely part of what makes the series more intelligent that most Travel Photography. The inkjet prints in the show, while naturally lacking the vibrancy and luminescence which actual c-prints printed from film negatives would have, are through Arimoto’s skilled processes, still vivid enough to provide a truly satisfying visual experience. Arimoto’s Tibet is comprised of equal parts awe, respect, banality, and beauty.
It’s quite interesting to compare the color images and his black and white ones of the same subject (image 2)- I don’t know what you were doing in the fall of 1998- I was probably listening to Intergalactic on CD while studying Japanese in my dorm- not out in the snow on the Tibetan steppes with a Rolleiflex around my neck and a Pentax 67 over my shoulder…
A selection of images from TIBETIAN WAY have been collected and published in Arimoto’s popular Ariphoto series- vol.7, his first color Ariphoto, is available in the gallery during the show, and will be available online once it ends.