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Issue No. 18 - Humanity

Uruma Takezawa: Land at Foto-Care Gallery

Image above: ©Uruma Takezawa, Kakuto County, Uganda. Courtesy of  Foto-Care Gallery in New York.

 

Kakuto County, Uganda - Classroom of an orphanage in the morning. Bright morning sun envelops the children. Having lost their parents, they have to live on their own. I visited this home, wondering what I could do for them or teach them, but there was nothing I could do for them and I learned so much from them instead. Their eyes, earnest for survival, left the strongest impression of Africa on me.

 peru-23805©Uruma Takezawa, Maras, Peru. Courtesy of  Foto-Care Gallery in New York.

At the back of the Andes, countless salt fields extended across the mountain slopes. The area used to be a seabed. The saline content from that time crystalized to produce salt. When I licked the salt from my fingertip, it tasted bitter—the taste of ancient times.

 

Mr. Takezawa has recently won the Nikkei National Geographic Photo Prize, and he is displaying the work in his first U.S. exhibition at Foto-Care Gallery in New York.

In 2010, Japanese photographer Uruma Takezawa embarked on a journey to explore and document people and places in the world’s more remote corners. He traveled by bus, train, on foot, bu horseback and even by kayak, to finally enjoyed 103 countries on four continents in just 1,021 days.

The resulting body of work–simply called ‘Land’–chronicles his global odyssey, from Bolivia to the Middle East, Mali to Brazil, and many other countries along the way.

 

 Ethiopia-5443©Uruma Takezawa,The Lower Omo River Valley, Ethiopia. Courtesy of  Foto-Care Gallery in New York.

 

A boy I met at an Arbore tribe village. His eyes were suffused with life force. The people living on African soil were living each moment and radiant. The beauty of their life force has attracted me and led me on a journey through Africa. Every time I met with eyes like these, I felt as if I were being questioned; “Are you alive?”

 

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©Uruma Takezawa, Niger. Courtesy of  Foto-Care Gallery in New York.

 

 Men of the Wodaabe tribe paint their face with pigments made from crushed rocks. Away from the eyes of antigovernment militants groups and the surveillance of the military, I managed to arrive at a pasture of this nomadic tribe. Being highly aesthetic, men wear makeup to win the affection of women. They travel the Sahel with hundreds of long-horned cattle. Those people, living in harmony with Mother Earth in the remotest part of Africa, completely cut off from modern society, were more beautiful than anything I had ever seen in my life.

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“What inspired me was my interest in unknown worlds,” Mr. Takezawa said in an interview to The Wall Street Journal. “I wanted to discover and explore with my camera diverse communities that live in some of the remotest parts of our planet. It was also a personal journey of self-discovery. By traveling alone and meeting different people I also learned about myself. Through my photographs, the unknown world became the known world to me.”

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cuba-1360©Uruma Takezawa, Havana, Cuba. Courtesy of  Foto-Care Gallery in New York.

 

Rumba is the music of people who have roots in Africa. This woman was dancing hard to music with a frenzied beat. Bursting music, and the animated movement of limbs. . . You cannot stay dispassionate listening to a Cuban rhythm. Your body starts moving naturally, your emotion flows out of your body, and you dance wildly. The streets of Havana were filled with rhythms and dance.

 

China-1343©Uruma Takezawa, Lalung Gal Gompa, East Tibet. Courtesy of  Foto-Care Gallery in New York.

 

A dense collection of monk quarters sprawled out over a hill. They looked like a living organism made of countless cells. It had snowed at dawn. When I woke up, the scenery was completely covered by white snow. The prayers that poured out of the temples, flowed beyond the mountains, wound around trees, rode on the flow of rivers, burrowed deep underground, and covered the globe. It seemed as if their prayers were holding this world together.

The exhibition "Land" will be on view on view at the Foto-Care Gallery in New York from April 21 until May 5, 2015. 

Foto-Care Gallery is located at 43 West 22nd Street, New York, NY 10010.

All Opening images by Kamila Ortiz.

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