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Picks :
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Picks is a monthly sampling of Japan's art scene, offering commentary by a variety of reviewers about exhibitions at museums and galleries in recent weeks, with an emphasis on contemporary art by young artists.

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image image 1 February 2018
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Miyako Ishiuchi: Grain and Image
9 December 2017 - 4 March 2018
Yokohama Museum of Art
(Kanagawa)
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This retrospective of the renowned photographer's career is divided into four parts: "Yokohama," the city where she set up her darkroom; "Silk," the premier product of her hometown of Kiryu in Gunma Prefecture; "Innocence," depicting scars on women's bodies, including close-ups of the hands and feet of poet Michiko Ishimure; and "Belongings," her ongoing series on the possessions of the deceased. It's a beautifully installed exhibition that amply reveals the richness and maturity of Ishiuchi's work.

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Mayumi Hosokura: JJuubbiilleeeee
2 December 2017 - 28 January 2018
G/P Gallery
(Tokyo)
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In recent years photographer Hosokura has dramatically expanded her spheres of activity and interest. Shot in Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and elsewhere in East Asia, this series is filled with vibrant yet labyrinthine imagery. Her nude photos of androgynous young people testify to her determination to seek out what she calls "new skins" that render ambiguous the boundaries of gender, human vs. animal, organic vs. inorganic.

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Contemporary Japanese Photography vol. 14: Photographs of Innocence and Experience

2 December 2017 - 28 January 2018

Tokyo Photographic Art Museum
(Tokyo)
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In its 14th iteration, this annual series brings together five artists in an admirably refreshing and balanced lineup. Erika Yoshino, Takahiro Kaneyama, Mari Katayama, Nozomi Suzuki, and Shimpei Takeda take markedly different stances behind the camera, but they share a palpable earnestness in their efforts to express the depths and distances of experience in contemporary society through the distinctive attributes of the medium of photography.

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Artist Project #2.02 Ken Kitano: Gathering Light

7 October - 10 December 2017

The Museum of Modern Art, Saitama
(Saitama)

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In its second presentation of this program, the museum reaches outside its permanent collection to showcase currently active artists like photographer Kitano, represented here by 16 works, including several new ones. Kitano's use of time-lapse and multiple exposures to produce images that contain unpredictable deviations exudes a dynamic tension between control and chance.
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Toru Kobayashi: Zenya (Last Night)
3 November - 3 December 2017
PORT
(Osaka)
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Kobayashi has devoted himself to photographing his younger brother, who suffers from autism and cognitive disabilities. His images resonate like disturbing, dissonant chord clusters. These are "family photos" that feel more ominous than intimate. Yet while he addresses the socially taboo subject of sexuality in people with disabilities, Kobayashi's work is driven by a forceful impulse to reject fixed points of view. Thus he continues to explore divergent paths that defy categorization under such rubrics as family, disability, or homosexuality.
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Toshiya Murakoshi: A gradual thaw

25 November - 22 December 2017

Case Tokyo Space
(Tokyo)
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This show coincided with Case Publishing's release of two photo collections by Murakoshi. A gradual thaw features panorama-size images shot in Fukushima between 2011 and 2015. On display were not only the prints, but also printing plates and other materials that gave viewers a glimpse into the process of creating a photo book.
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Yoshiyuki Okuyama: As the Call, So the Echo
18 November - 24 December 2017
Gallery 916
(Tokyo)
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Okuyama's latest photo series, the titular work, captures day-to-day life with a friend and his family in Nagano Prefecture. The juxtaposition of family shots with more disturbing, moody images stems from his belief that every experience has two facets窶覇xternal reality (the conscious) and internal illusion (the subconscious) -- which manifest as two sides of the same coin. In these photographs Okuyama passes experiences with his friend's family through a personal filter, making the images a reflection of his inner environment as well.
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Yurie Nagashima & Miyo Stevens-Gandara: Forever Is Composed of Nows
21 November - 22 December 2017
Maho Kubota Gallery
(Tokyo)
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A joint show by photographer Nagashima and American multimedia artist Stevens-Gandara, friends since their art school days. Both create work that straightforwardly expresses an acute sensitivity to changes in the environment and a certain sense of loss. In this impressively well-composed installation, one particular eye-grabber was Nagashima's early series of photographs printed directly onto skateboards coated with photosensitive emulsion.
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In Print, Out of Print: The Photo Collection as a Form of Expression
9 - 24 December 2017
Irie Taikichi Memorial Museum of Photography
(Nara)
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Since its launch in September 2015, Case Publishing has produced photo books of consistently high quality that have earned it an international reputation. This show introduced 19 titles by the publisher, including several still in production. The exhibition eloquently made its case that photo collections are themselves an art form, created by a collaborative process involving not only the photographer but the editor, graphic designer, and printing director as well.
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Diaspora Now! Contemporary Arts around the Homeland
10 November 2017 - 8 January 2018

The Museum of Fine Arts, Gifu
(Gifu)

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The objective of this exhibition was to introduce artists from places of conflict in the Middle East, as well as to raise political issues through art. Though it's easy to criticize such practices as using art to exploit or commodify suffering, the host museum deserves praise for planning this challenging show in a country like Japan where the politics of depoliticization is the norm, and particularly in a region outside the major metropolitan areas. Joining five artists from Syria, Palestine, and Morocco was the Japanese art unit Kyun-Chome.
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