“Our mind is enriched by what we receive, our heart by what we give.”
~ Victor Hugo
Encountered an anti-fascism and anti-racism rally in Central London this afternoon. There seems to be a protest of some sort every weekend in this city and this weekend is no different. Division and hate are so prevalent in many societies today, from East to West it seems like they are inherent in the very being of humankind. We just commemorated Armistice Day last weekend, a stark reminder of what man can do to each other.
Italy has a certain style and elegance that cannot truly be captured in pictures. The mix of culture, food, fashion, architecture, religion and a legacy so steeped in significant European history has culminated in a rich, thick, gravy of sensory and visual delights for photographers.
I was going through my archives in search of staircase pictures recently (see Simply Stairs ) and discovered several collections of images I have taken over the years in Rome, Venice, Tuscany and elsewhere. I managed to select these to illustrate what I mean. It is also different from France, another country which I have visited a lot.
This is one mega-exhibition that involves so many photographers & designers that will be traveling from Tokyo to Paris in 2018. Am honoured to be part of this historic event.
Press Release 01 November 2017
“SHIBUYA – TOKYO CURIOSITY by TOKYO-GA”
DURATION: January 2nd to January 8th, 2018
VENUE: Shibuya Hikarie 8/Cube
Organized by NPO TOKYO-GA
Supported by The 4th ward, Paris. Shibuya ward, TOKYO
Cooperated by TOKYO-GA Supporters Circle
~ Curiosity connects the world ~ Identity・Diversity・Traceability ~
As one of the most dynamic city environments in Asia, Shibuya is at the forefront of new, on-the-edge trends and more particularly, of the emergence of a new Japanese life style. The dynamics of Shibuya have attracted the attention of the Japanese media and institutions. With the support of the city ward, the NPO TOKYO-GA has been charged to produce an exhibition featuring Shibuya’s identity at Shibuya Hikarie in January 2018.
This first exhibition will be the forerunner of what we would like to conceive as a traveling exhibition that presents the identity of Shibuya and the young Japanese generation abroad. Concrete and abstract themes will be featured through photography as a central element combined with mural video projection, virtual reality and art installations.
” I expect Tokyo-GA to communicate the exquisite charm, power, and vibrations of the Tokyo Megalopolis, with its sceneries and urban landscapes, a succession of vertical and horizontal rhythmical symphonies, which no other city in the world can give.”
~ Richard COLLASSE, President, CHANEL.K.K.
TOKYO-GA Participating Photographers
Satoshi ASAKAWA, Jean-Michel BERTS, Navid BARATY, Yukari CHIKURA, Renate D’AGOSTIN, Giuseppe DE FRANCESCO, Michael FEATHER, Stéphanie FRAISSE, Michel FRAPIER, Haruhi FUJII, the GAZE, Emmanuel GUILLARD, Mikio HASUI, Roland HAGENBERG, Tatsuya HIRABAYASHI, Kenji HIRASAWA, Taishi HIROKAWA, Tomoki HIROKAWA, Naoki HONJO, Norihisa HOSAKA, Minoru HOHTSUKI, Rie ISHISHITA, Kimiko ISHIYAMA, Gentaro ISHIZUKA, Keiichi ITO, Ooki JINGU, Bishin JUMONJI, Daisuke KAMIMURA, Chiaki KANO, Junpei KATO, Haruna KAWANISHI, Evarett KENNEDY BROWN, Rei KISHITSU, Eriko KOGA, Yasutaka KOJIMA, Kentaro KUMON, Osamu KURIHARA, Edward LEVINSON, Sebastien LEBEGUE, Steven LEE, Ilse LEENDERS, Tomoaki MAKINO, Yoshiko MATSUNAGA, Chihiro MINATO, Muga MIY AHARA, Mamiko MIYAHARA, Christopher MORRIS, Daido MORIYAMA, Yuki MORITA, Ken-ichi NAGASAKI, Masataka NAKANO, Hiroki NAKASHIMA, Sakiko NOMURA, Katsumi OHMORI, Mitsugu OHNISHI, Ryo OHWADA, Atsushi OKADA, Tsutomu ONO, Yuki ONODERA, Daisuke OOZU, Cesar ORDOÑEZ. Thomas PRIOR, Bruno QUINQUET, Takehito SATO, Tatsuya SHIMOHIRA, Taku SHINDO, Vincent SOULIE, Jeremie SOUTEYRAT, Ichigo SUGAWARA, Masayoshi SUKITA, Takeshi SUMI, Mikiya TAKIMOTO, Saori TAO, Kiyoshi TATSUKAWA, Yukinori TOKORO, Yoshihiko UEDA, Makiko UI, Kikuko USUYAMA, Kazuhiko WASHIO, Kazuki WATANABE, James WHITLOW DELANO, Michael WOLF, Celine WU, Masami YAMAMOTO, Yuki YAMADA(CHAP-TYAPU), Naomi YANAGIMOTO, Hiroshi YODA, Alao YOKOGI, Guenter ZORN
TOKYO-GA 東京画 MISSION STATEMENT
DESCRIBING TOKYO SCAPES BY 100 PHOTOGRAPHERS
In spring 2011, Japan experienced one of the biggest tragedies of its history that will remain in the memory of people for generations. The tremendous earthquake, the enormous tsunami and the catastrophic meltdown of the Fukushima power plant, all three incidents have damaged heavily the beautiful Japanese landscape and the trust in a safe Japanese nation.
TOKYO-GA, established in April 2011, gathers photographs taken by 100 photographers who have chosen Tokyo as their subject. Through the perspective of these photographers, “TOKYO-GA” wants to promote reflection on the development of the Japanese capital in the aftermath of the 2011 disaster. By looking at the works, the onlooker is invited to ponder over what is beautiful, what is sad, what is important, and to evaluate the possibilities that may lie ahead. The works illustrated show us some aspects of what is essential for Tokyo, something fragile such as an atmosphere, a behaviour or a gesture.
TOKYO-GA invites to share the beat and breath of Tokyo, a city undergoing big changes in this decade, and to witness the presence with sincerity through the eyes of 100 photographers who have each of them identified Tokyo in their own personal way.
Commissioner Founder – TOKYO-GA
c/o KLEE INC TOKYO
8-12-25, Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-0052 Tokyo Japan Tel: 81-(0)3-5410-1277 Fax: 81-(0)3-5410-1278
This is John Hook, 81, from the Welsh town of Deri, in the Darran Valley. I met him walking his dog, a little pincer, along a path by a stream and we chatted. The Welsh are really friendly, like that. Maybe it’s just the older generation. He had worked as a coal miner in three collieries when he was younger, and also help started steel works in England. Now, retired, he stays outdoors as much as possible, walking and enjoying the countryside.
In the 50-70s these valleys in South Wales were major producers of coal in Europe and there were numerous collieries providing employment to the local population for generations. The beautiful countryside where we met were completely blackened with the spoils, slag heaps and soot from the mines. These were all cleared and the land replanted or regenerated into public space. The last mine which closed here was in the early 80s as the industry collapsed.
France24 broadcast journalist reporting live from the Candlelight Vigil at Trafalgar Square for the victims of the terrorist attack at Westminster on 22 March, 2017. The last vigil I attended here at the same London landmark was on the occasion of the Paris attacks of November 2015.
This evening’s vigil was attended by thousands of local residents and visitors who filled the square, surrounded with armoured police vehicles, road closures and many armed officers.
Troubled waters ahead. On the first day of the new year, a gunman dressed as Santa Claus entered a nightclub on the Bosphorus and killed over 39 people, as hundreds celebrated the New Year. There’s an unspoken protocol in the UK that the Brits do not normally discuss politics and religion at dinner tables, and presumably Brexit also.
However, as I see it, these subjects define who we are and how we exist – politics have to do with every facet of our modern connected lives, from the price of oil to the car we drive, and sadly, our day to day security. Everything is connected. Europe is currently facing an unspoken crisis and this will only deepen in the coming months as Britain prepares for Brexit and the EU sees several General Elections in 2017.
We scorn at the opinionated and so-called experts, but I fear those who have no opinions more, as you don’t know where they stand.
Wishing everyone a Happy and Peaceful Christmas.
With a little over a week till Christmas, and soon 2016 comes to an end, I look forward to another awesome year ahead to new projects, new friends and more personal photography projects.
Coming straight up, in February – KLPA2017 will be launched with a brand new and exciting theme. In May, we will hosting the first ever Photography Symposium Asia in Kuala Lumpur, promising a great line up of presenters and focusing on Education and Opportunities.
2017, also sees the second phase of the Two Mountains Photo Project taking shape. Six photographers from Japan and Malaysia have been commissioned to photograph stories surrounding the mythology, socio dynamics and natural aspects of Mount Fuji and Mount Kinabalu.
KL-Ga was also launched this year and we continue with this photoblog for 2017. We have already seen some great single images and stories about the city, as we take on new photographers.
In the pipeline also – is a personal project centred around the printed image and more details will follow.
I don’t know what it is, but the last two weekends I have been encountering flocks of docile pigeons during my walks with the dog and elsewhere. Perhaps it is the time of the year, when it starts to get colder, they fly around less and spend more time huddled together. Was it Plato who wrote about ‘birds of a feather flock together’ or it could even be much earlier, but what we know for sure is, the saying holds true in whatever we do, in today’s societies.
How we select our friends, our social and work affiliations, our interests and politics, our work colleagues – and even amongst the social circles from art and photography – are determined by commonalities like genres, interests, upbringing, education and outlook.
People congregate and share common interests and goals. This is a natural thing and made easier with social networking today. There are no more physical boundaries but only unlimited experiences.
In Malaysia today, there’s a groundswell going on in photography, where I keenly and closely have my ‘eyes on the ground’.
Obscura Festival, a world-class event is now established in the annual arts calendar. We have just seen the first Kota Kinabalu Photo Festival concluded this week. There is the KL Photography Festival which attracts product manufacturers as well as hobbyists in every field and genre, as well as professional events like the WPPA and numerous other speciality groups. Personally, I have been involved in the KL International Photoawards since 2009, again a niche and event promoting portrait photography in the region.
Several ‘collectives’ and groups have formed in recent months and perhaps more will spring up in the near future, and that is encouraging. My observation tells me that there is a healthy discourse amongst the many photography groups that are established to cater for almost every aspect of photography – wildlife organised by the Malaysian Nature Society, film shooters, street photography groups are particularly active, various photowalk social groups, Afghan box camera, large format enthusiasts, and so on.
However, what is lacking, in my opinion are fine art practitioners and serious documentary photographers. A handful of friends and acquaintances are indeed working in these fields, but as a whole, there is a lack of interest. A few years ago, a spark was lit in photography book making, but recently this have fallen silent, as least from where I am observing.
These activities set within the larger photographic communities lack impetus, support and opportunities to maintain momentum – not helped by the absence of dedicated photography galleries and space, curators, collectors, funding, and education.
Photography education by it’s very definition, is misleading. At least in Asia. Education is a path to a career, but photography is a past time. The very concept of enrolling into a photography degree, BFA or MFA to become an artist, is unheard of amongst the general student populace a decade ago, and today there are only a handful of colleges and universities offering photography as modules or subjects with Graphic Design, Journalism or MassComm degrees and diplomas. The modules are also largely technical based with introductions into all manner of photography genres including camera handling and practical skills. Perhaps lacking are the historical references and personal development, critical examinations and research aspects in photography that is much needed.
Perhaps there just isn’t an appetite for anything formal or structured, and that is fine. Perhaps there is a latent demand for formalised training, following the ‘if you build it and he will come’ adage. I personally think there are opportunities to explore. I am always open to new ideas and methods and listen to the experts. There is perhaps a need to engage with colleges and universities which are providing photography education – to take a lead, or innovate with private groups. There are also avenues to explore in private workshops and programs specially targeted at young and keen photographers.
Then there is the question about opportunities. What are the channels that are available to young photographers to show their works? There are no dedicated galleries, or proper curation of work. There is little funding available from government and corporations, little or non-existent collectors of contemporary photography. Independent groups can only do so much in terms of advancement of the art. Festivals provide a useful glimpse of what the rest of the world is up to but is not entirely accessible due to specificities of curation.
A plan is underway to bring together some leading players from the region to Kuala Lumpur in May 2017, to share ideas and recommendations on how to address this gaping hole that is, photography education. I hope also to have the educators. students and lecturers come together and create dialogue.
I invite everyone who is thinking along similar lines to support and attend this KL gathering – to discuss, give your views and help shape future plans in photography education in Malaysia and also the region.
More information soon, or send me an email message if you have any proposals or comments.
With the recent announcement of the new Baleh mega-dam project in Sarawak, following the Murum project which was commissioned in 2015; combined with the severe deforestation of primary rainforests in this naturally endowed state in East Malaysia, the plight of the nomadic communities of the Penan people have been dealt another blow.
The Penan of northern Borneo are primarily ‘hunter-gatherers’ or nomadic indigenous peoples. In Sarawak, the Penan plight was highlighted by international media attention by their 1960s resistance to the Baram dam clearing. Dam projects and deforestation go hand in hand, and these nomadic people were promised resettlement and land, which to most, were alien to their lifestyle and their hunting traditions. Today, only several hundred Penan still continue with their nomadic lifestyles, and resisting further intrusions into their habitat. Their fight against conglomerates and big, well-connected business entities are all but futile.
I discovered that Mitsu Maeda, a freelance commercial photographer from Japan, whom I met at Mt.Rokko International Photo Festival in 2014, had traveled into the interior of Sarawak in 2010 and lived amongst the Ba’Marong community, to document their lifestyle. Her project titled “Forced Changes : The Penan and Life in the Rainforest” was published in 2011 by Days Japan magazine. This photo series gives us a glimpse of their nomadic lifestyle, which is fast disappearing and serves as a reminder about the complexities of developmental changes and the importance in maintaining the balance between man and its environment.
I recently asked Mitsu Maeda why she became interested in such a project, and how she managed to travel into the interior to engaged with this community.
In 2010, she became aware of the Penan due to the large scale logging of the forests, where a lot of hardwood timber were being exported to Japan for their construction industry and also paper products. The nomadic communities were affected most as the deforestation displaced them from their already scarce resource of hunting for food, and habitable land.
“I got interested in their lives in the rainforest itself and also felt that I wanted to cover it as Japan has been one of the largest consumers of wood, paper from acacia plantations, and palm oil from Sarawak. So (indirectly) we were destroying their lives without really noticing it”.
“Vast forests have been logged and become palm or acacia plantations. Palm oil is often promoted as “environmentally friendly”, and acacia is consumed as cheap paper in offices in Japan. But large amounts of pesticides are used in these plantations and it pollutes the rivers which nearby residents use. Now many residents are suffering from skin diseases.”
She arrived in Miri and met with several settled communities before heading into the interior to visit the nomadic Ba’Marong for about a week, living, eating, hunting and sharing their stories. This community of nomads was made up of 8 families and totaled 20 persons.
“I contacted Friends of The Earth which is an NGO helping Penan people in Sarawak. They arranged my trip.”
Sagun, the leader of Ba’Marong.
Listening to the sounds of the forest on their way hunting.
Mitsu Maeda followed some men on a hunt for monkeys and even sampled some of its meat.
Processing tapioca from the sago tree. They take fibre from the tree, soak them in water, filter, and dry. The process takes almost a day. Tapioca is their main source of carbohydrate since the community does not cultivate rice or wheat.
“I liked the Ba’Marong people a lot. I felt like they really know what they need. And the girl, Sagun’s daughter, she was running around naked but on the day I left she wore a pretty pink one-piece!”
Ranny with her grandmother. Older generations prefer to stay in a “hat house” while younger generations live in a house with walls. The grandmother is making rattan products.
Bathing and washing clothes in the river
“Their life is facing changes and problems. Some of the people in Ba’Marong do not even have Identification Cards or birth certificates which the government is supposed to issue, meaning they are not registered as Malaysians.”
This is why most of the Penans are not able to simply go to the towns to work when there is not enough food to eat in the forest and have to find other ways to take care of their families.
Also, many land disputes are occurring between Penan communities as the forest resources become scarce. Basically, people in a community can only hunt and gather in the forest area which has been decided in community leaders’ meetings in the past. However, as the forest resource become scarce, some communities cannot get enough food and other resources from their area and started to claim other areas. It is ironic that people who did not even have a sense of land ownership now have to fight over it.
“Anwi, the leader of Ba’Marong told me, “I want more people in the world to know what is happening here. Forests for us are like supermarkets for you. Even we settle, we can’t live without forests.” ”
All images © Mitsu Maeda
Mitsu Maeda is a Japanese photographer currently based in Kochi, Japan. Her theme in photography is to capture emotions and senses that she encounters. Ultimately she aims to explore the organic complexities of the individual.