Who: 中藤毅彦 Takehiko Nakafuji / website
Where: Gallery Niepce, Shinjuku
When: October 10 – 18, 2020 (12-7pm)
Nakafuji is one of Tokyo’s Street (photo) Kings- but he’s also traveled the world, steadily building a huge archive of his characteristically contrast work.
Winterlicht is a collection of photographs he took while traveling Eastern Europe by train in the late 1990s with his Leica, Contax G2, and Fuji Neopan 1600 film. His images suggest a Europe comprised of mystery, isolation, and coldness. That they are a background for a personal journey is apparent- and part of their popularity. A master darkroom printer, his 16×20 prints- fittingly for the subject matter, done on Forte paper- are exquisite.
In 2001, Winterlicht was published as a photobook by WIDES- one of seven books he’s released so far- 2020 will see another one added to his bibliography with an upcoming exhibition at Zen Foto Gallery. Check shashasha.co for more of his work.
Seen: Self portraits
Who: Vivian Maier
When: October 15 – November 27 2020 ( Open Thursday – Saturday 11-1pm / 2-7pm)
Seen: I had a dream you married a boy
Who: Valerie Phillips / instagram
Where: Book Marc, Harajuku
When: October 9 – November 5, 2020Valerie Phillips documents young women with a vivid, engaging eye showing their individuality, independence, defiance- and at times, vulnerability- in a way that most male photographers would miss.
Listen- her stuff in this show- another one-on-one session with a young woman- this time swedish model Arvida Byström is extremely now. Not being able to shoot in person, their shoot was over skype with Phillips’ iPhone screenshot function employed as the camera. These images, with their glorious smartphone saturation and wifi-skipping artefacts, were then printed large and matted and framed for the walls of the gallery. I already like the subversity in that- but to add to it are the rows of original prints- affordably priced- along shelves out in the open. No dense MFA paragraphs here, either- the only text is in the form of messaging app exchanges between Valerie and Arvida.
The whole thing shares space with Marc Jacobs Heaven collection shown in a trippy late-90s installation. It’s fun. My friend’s 9 year old daughter loved it. (and the two-headed teddy bears.)
Valerie’s pictures are very much about the present and they make me, a 40 year old white guy, feel like I’m on the outside of an in-joke between her and her subjects and I really, really like that. Heaven forbid photography have to adhere to some tepid “fine art” schematic or even worse, have to appropriately be for everyone, all the time. Her pictures are for her and the ladies in them and then for anyone who wants to feel something from the images. That’s how you do it.
I find the screenshots clever- not as a “concept” but in how she’s doing digital photography “right”. I have zero interest in people with digital cameras laboring to get “film vibes” as if it’s some preset aesthetic. If you want film, then just shoot. film. In art, I’m interested in how true respect of a particular medium- and its “limitations”- results in something that’s not just about what the image is about, but also the way it is about that. So yes, the camera does matter. And here, it’s been employed brilliantly. It’s all very much NOW. Even down to the opening reception with Valerie and Arvida in two different countries talking to a gallery full of masked Japanese fans in Tokyo via Zoom screens. It does not get more 2020 than that.
An accompanying book- including customized copies is available in the gallery / bookstore.
Seen: Koizora 恋空
Who: Nobuyoshi Araki 荒木経惟
When: October 10 – December 12, 2020 (Open 1-7pm. Closed Mondays, Tuesdays) Nobuyoshi Araki’s show, up at Art Space AM in Harajuku, is titled Koizora 恋空: “love sky”.
The skies have been extraordinary in Tokyo this fall. The city experienced their first typhoon-free September in years and currently homebound due to concerns of his health and the pandemic, Araki has continued photographing the skies from his balcony as only he can. Inside his home he creates small, bizarre worlds of flowers and dolls which he photographs as part of his Paradise series.
In addition to large color inkjet prints, this show also features two large panels of Polaroids- 198 in total. A few polaroids are older but the majority are new- among them one will find two references to Araki’s dear friend Robert Frank.
Totem Pole Photo Gallery, Shinjuku, Tokyo
Konica Hexar AF
Totem Pole Photo Gallery, Shinjuku, Tokyo
Mamiya 7ii with 80mm f4 lens
Photographer: 菊池真未 / Masami Kikuchi / instagram
Seen: 昨日 Yesterday
Who: Mitsuru Sato (previously on TCS)
When: August 31 – September 13, 2020 / 12:00-19:00 daily
So many good shows are going on in Tokyo this week… I’m always glad to see Mitsuru Sato’s latest entries in his ongoing diaristic, quiet “Yesterday” series. He doesn’t have a website but I’ve been sharing installation views of his work for a few years now.
His lens meanders through the city, often alighting on young women in trains lost in smartphone-glow or men hunched over beers in Shinjuku. While the core of his vision remains, in this newest show the reflection of Tokyo’s total masking appears. The masks that seperate (and protect) people, the vinyl barriers between diners packed in at ramen counters- even the usual sound-barrier cloth put up around construction projects takes on a new feeling.
But if there’s any “message” to these pictures it’s not one that’s scientific nor political or of any urgency. Maybe it’s simply, “this is what it looks like now”.
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Reporter Akiko Shigematsu caught up with Araki in August for The Sankei Shimbun and JAPAN Forward for an interview to talk about his new book.
Seen: 遠く溢れる / I still can see (surely)
Who: 菊池真未 / Masami Kikuchi / instagram
Where: Totem Pole Photo Gallery, Shinjuku
When: September 8 – 13, 2020 (12 – 7pm)
This exhibition is a sort of continuation of her previous 2014 show in theme and in some cases, subjects. The young women in these photos are people whom Kikuchi approached on the streets of Tokyo for portraits- encounters which grew into friendships-and what’s pictured are collaborative portraits of their relationships.
She shoots with a Mamiya 7 loaded with Provia film- and said tonight that this camera is an asset when approaching people- it’s so obviously out of the ordinary that people are intrigued.
Masami has also self-published and hand-made a zine of this series- it is available in the gallery (1500 yen) during the exhibition.
This is probably my favorite Totem Pole show of 2020. It’s too bad this is only a six day show! I’ll probably be going back for another look.
Daido Moriyama: Hokkaido
Rathole Gallery, Tokyo
December 19 -February 8, 2008