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Spring 2013 Larry Sultan Visiting Artist Program Lecture: Rinko Kawauchi

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steinmetz Rinko Kawauchi Untitled, from the series of Ametsuchi 2012

Lecture by Rinko Kawauchi Tuesday, September 24, 2013 / 7PM Timken Lecture Hall, California College of the Arts 1111 Eighth Street San Francisco, CA 94107

Pier 24 Photography is pleased to announce the Spring 2013 Larry Sultan Visiting Artist Program in collaboration with California College of the Arts and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Free and open to the public No RSVP - Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis

Japanese photographer Rinko Kawauchi has gained international recognition for her nuanced, lushly colored images that offer closely observed fragments of everyday life. In 2001, Kawauchi launched her career with the simultaneous publication of three astonishing photobooks –Utatane, Hanabi and Hanako – firmly establishing herself as one of the most innovative newcomers to contemporary photography.

Kawauchi sees her work as a vast archive of images with never-ending potential. She photographs her everyday life, however it is through her selection and composition that she creates a magical feeling from her environment. Pictures of a baby being born, portraits of wounded or sick people, instantaneous and magical moments like fireworks, are all components of her visual poetry.

In her most recent body of work, Ametsuchi, Kawauchi unites images of distant constellations, tiny figures lost within landscapes, with photographs of a traditional controlled burn farming method (yakihata), in which the cycles of cultivation and recovery span decades and generations. Punctuating the series are images of Buddhist rituals and other religious ceremonies – a suggestion of other means by which humankind has traditionally attempted to transcend time and memory. Selected works from Ametsuchi are currently on view in the exhibition, A Sense of Place, at Pier 24 Photography.

Kawauchi is recognized for masterful editing and sequencing of her images to generate a rich body of photobooks. Her monographs include Aila (2004), The Eyes, the Ear (2005) and Semear (2007). In 2010, Aperture publishedIlluminance, the first book of the artist’s work published outside of Japan; she was short-listed for the 2012 Deutsche Börse Prize for this publication.

Rinko Kawauchi 'Ametsuchi' on ASX

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Review: Rinko Kawauchi Ametsuchi (2013)

By Sören Schuhmacher for ASX, September 2013

Rinko Kawauchi’s new book Ametsuchi (Heaven and Earth) published by Aperture, reads like a Haruki Murakami novel. Kawauchi merges reality with the spiritual world and reveals an invisible but tangent point of connection between apparently unrelated events. Even the concept of Ametsuchioriginates from a dream, Rinko Kawauchi had years ago.

“I was drinking my coffee on a Sunday morning, idly watching TV with my head still half-asleep, I was surprised to suddenly see the image from that dream reappear. It was a scene of many people and horses together in a green meadow before a large mountain – a place called Aso.”

Rinko Kawauchi entered a new territory with Ametsuchi. This time she worked with a 4×5 large format camera instead her Rolleiflex, which led her to break out from the self-imposed pattern of the square format. Also the typical soft tones in her images disappear. They became darker and reveal an almost mystical atmosphere.

Aso, where most of the photographs were taken, is a region famous for it’s 1,300-year-old farming ritual, in which fields are burned on an annual basis in advance of planting new crops. The agricultural burning and the cyclical nature of life, functions as the central theme in the book.

Kawauchi is known for her exceptional editing of her books and the manner to tell a story on a page by juxtaposition of two images. Although her previous books were always pursuing a certain concept, they could be considered more like a collection of short stories than a novel without an ongoing storyline. Ametsuchi on the other side, is sequenced with single images on a double page, which invites the viewer to follow the story through the entire book, from beginning to end.

The book starts with a smoke darkened sky, caused by the flames of the agriculture burning, that turn the dry fields into an apocalyptic landscape. In the further course, burning fields, green meadows and in snow covered landscapes alternate to illustrate a recurring cycle and and the elapse of time.

At about the middle of the book, images of a theatrical Shinto dance ceremony, the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, and the starry sky in a planetarium were interspersed. Different from the agricultural burnings, the images of the Wailing Wall and the Shinto dance ceremony are blurred and overexposed. The sudden appearing and disappearing of these interspersed images, are like zapping through TV channels, where different events, at different locations, take place at the same time.

At first glance this events seem unrelated, but under a closer look, they all representing a certain resistance in a time that rapidly changes. Rituals – Spiritual remains of the beginning of mankind, formed a circle by passing on from generation to generation. Ametsuchi is a veneration of the invisible world that has continued since the distant past. Rinko Kawauchi uses these rituals as a juncture between past and present, spiritual world and reality, heaven and earth.

The award-winning Dutch designer, Hans Gremmen, translated the concept of Ametsuchi into the book design, and managed even to enlarge Kawauchi’s work by pushing the photobook to the next level. Questioning the medium of the book, and how people tend to use them, Ametsuchi is bound in a variation of a Japanese binding. The upper sides of the pages are closed and the bottoms open, which generates a space between the actual pages that can only be seen by lifting the pages bottom corners up. In this almost hidden space, the images are the inverted color version from the outer surface, visualizing a parallel world, where darkness turns into light, fire into water and vice versa. As a nice extra the dust jacket of the book is also a double-sided poster with a inverted image of the cover on the back. Nothing was left to chance and is perfectly integrated into the main concept, from the beginning to the end.

This leads to the last image in the book, which shows the actual scene of people and horses together in a green meadow before a large mountain. The scene, Rinko Kawauchi dreamt about and which later reappeared on television – a recurring cycle.

“On the ground of one of the stars among the immense universe, I think of the beginning, The Earth is a mirror to project heaven. Photography captures the mirror. It connects the Earth and heaven. When the darkness reaches at the bottom, the light will arrive.”

- Rinko Kawauchi

ASX CHANNEL: RINKO KAWAUCHI

(All rights reserved. Text @ Sören Schuhmacher and ASX, Images @ Rinko Kawauchi)

Rinko Kawauchi at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography

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Rinko Kawauchi:

Illuminance, Ametsuchi, Seeing Shadow

May 12 — July 16

Untitled, from the series Ametsuchi, 2012

The Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography is delighted to present the solo exhibition entitled Kawauchi Rinko: Illuminance, Ametsuchi, Seeing Shadow, devoted to the work of Kawauchi Rinko, a photographer who has exemplified the period from 2000 on, winning support largely from the younger generation, and has also achieved renown on the international stage.

This exhibition, Kawauchi Rinko's first solo exhibition at a museum in the Tokyo area, will introduce Illuminance, which mainly consists of recent work in the 6 x 6 cm format, the style of photography that is almost synonymous with this artist, as well as her latest work, Ametsuchi and Seeing Shadow, series being exhibited for the first time.

Kawauchi Rinko has spent nearly 15 years shooting the photographs that make up the Illuminance series, in which we see a deepening of themes that first appeared in her Utatane series, for which she won the 2002 Kimura Ihee Award. Here again we see, with a greater depth of style, everyday private scenes shot in a way that illuminates the universal brilliance of life. The artist's unique world of images develops spatially, mingling light and dark, life and death, beauty and sadness in a large number of momentary scenes. The new Ametsuchi and Seeing Shadow series, which include both large prints and video works, create intuitive depictions of the cosmic order, the connection between heaven and earth, primitive scenes, through a variety of earthly phenomena, including the burning off of the fields around Mt. Aso in early spring. A group of photographs photographed with a large-format 4 x 5 inch camera and presented as large-scale prints, about two meters wide, combined with an experiential video presentation on a large screen reflect a view of the world on a huge scale not seen in Kawauchi's earlier work.

The exhibition consists of approximately 80 works that present the essence and fascination of Kawauchi Rinko's creative cosmos and draws close to new developments.

Untitled, from the series Illuminance, 2009
Untitled, from the series Illuminance, 2007
Text courtesy of Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography

Rinko Kawauchi will be showing at Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography

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2F Exhibition Gallery

Untitled, from the series of Ametsuchi 2012

Kawauchi Rinko: Illuminance, Ametsuchi, Seeing Shadow

May 12 (Sat) - July 16 (Mon)

The Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography is delighted to present the solo exhibition entitled Kawauchi Rinko: Illuminance, Ametsuchi, Seeing Shadow, devoted to the work of Kawauchi Rinko, a photographer who has exemplified the period from 2000 on, winning support largely from the younger generation, and has also achieved renown on the international stage.

This exhibition, Kawauchi Rinko's first solo exhibition at a museum in the Tokyo area, will introduce Illuminance, which mainly consists of recent work in the 6 x 6 cm format, the style of photography that is almost synonymous with this artist, as well as her latest work, Ametsuchi and Seeing Shadow, series being exhibited for the first time.

Kawauchi Rinko has spent nearly 15 years shooting the photographs that make up the Illuminance series, in which we see a deepening of themes that first appeared in her Utatane series, for which she won the 2002 Kimura Ihee Award. Here again we see, with a greater depth of style, everyday private scenes shot in a way that illuminates the universal brilliance of life. The artist's unique world of images develops spatially, mingling light and dark, life and death, beauty and sadness in a large number of momentary scenes. The new Ametsuchi and Seeing Shadow series, which include both large prints and video works, create intuitive depictions of the cosmic order, the connection between heaven and earth, primitive scenes, through a variety of earthly phenomena, including the burning off of the fields around Mt. Aso in early spring. A group of photographs photographed with a large-format 4 x 5 inch camera and presented as large-scale prints, about two meters wide, combined with an experiential video presentation on a large screen reflect a view of the world on a huge scale not seen in Kawauchi's earlier work.

The exhibition consists of approximately 80 works that present the essence and fascination of Kawauchi Rinko's creative cosmos and draws close to new developments.

Untitled, from the series of Illuminance 2007

Untitled, from the series of Illuminance 2009

Please see more at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography website