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Issue No. 17 - Enigma

For a New World to Come: Experiments in Japanese Art and Photography, 1968-1979

Image above: ©Gocho, Self and Others
Japanese Organizationimages above: © Peru McCarra

 

For a New World to Come, the Japan Society’s exhibit of over 200 works, focuses on the experimental and breakthrough work of Japanese photographers and artists from 1968-1979. Photographs, 16mm films, photobooks, and print screens by artists such as Shōmei Tōmatsu, Kunié Sugiura, and Ishiuchi Miyako showcase a pivotal time in which Japanese artists broke with tradition and created a radical new art movement, much in the spirit of rebellion and reform that defined the 1960s and 70s.

Many of the pieces on display pose metaphysical questions about the nature of time, the notion of permanence, and the way in which individuals view the world around them. One such work is Jiro Takamatsu’s Photograph in Photograph—literally a photograph of a photograph—which asks the philosophical question of whether a photograph is merely an object that holds an image or if a photograph is an image in itself.

Tomatsu_Protest 1Image above: ©Tomatsu, Protest

 

Keiji Uematsu’s Cutting, on the other hand, challenges the viewer’s conception of space and sculpture. With this series, Uematsu presents two images side by side: one in which two beams of lumber resting against a doorframe and laid on the floor serve as sculpture, and the other in which he himself holds one of the beams and becomes a part of the sculpture and the surrounding space.

It is no surprise that these works center on such profound matters; in a time when politics and societal norms were constantly criticized, these artists were surrounded by tough questions, and it’s clear that they were not afraid to present some of their own.

For a New World to Come will continue until January 10, 2016.

Above text by: Stephanie Kotsikonas

Enokura_PW No 51Image above: ©Enokura, PW No 51

 

Nakahira_Untitled _2 of 2Image above: ©Nakahira, Untitled  2 of 2

 

New York, NY - In 1968, amid an economic boom, many in Japan registered widespread discontent over social inequalities. At the same time, the country was roiled by protests against the Vietnam War and the upcoming renewal of a treaty extending American occupation. These circumstances mark the point of departure for For a New World to Come: Experiments in Japanese Art and Photography, 1968-1979, the first comprehensive exhibition to focus upon a critical moment when Japanese artists and photographers, sensing that their traditional practices were no longer valid, began experimenting with the possibilities of camera-based practices, laying the foundations for contemporary art in Japan.

For a New World to Come is on view at New York University's Grey Art Gallery from September 11 to December 5, 2015 and Japan Society Gallery from October 9, 2015 to January 10, 2016. This exhibition was organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Spanning the two New York venues are some 350 photographs, photography books and journals, paintings, sculptures, videos, and a film-based installation, many shown for the first time in New York. Works by 29 artists and photographers are framed within a global context, illustrating Japan's participation in an international dialogue on new practices that incorporated photography.

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