woensdag 31 augustus 2016

Views & Reviews A powerful Drama generated by the Interweaving of Natural Forces with Man-made Structures Toshio Shibata Photography

The photographs of Toshio Shibata convey a powerful drama generated by the interweaving of natural forces with man-made structures. Water spills, crashes, and glides over constructed sluices and channels in an endless gravity propelled dance. The arcing paths of highways are carved into mountainsides and sheer cliff faces are transformed into a repeating pattern as they are interlaced with human engineering. Using an 8 x 10-inch camera, he eliminates most references to scale, sky, and horizon while providing crisp detail and texture. Under Shibata's eye, the man-altered landscape becomes a mysterious abstract composition revealing the shapes and patterns intrinsic to both the natural and artificial forms.

Shibata began his career in Japan, and the photographs he made there explore the striking visual dichotomy, but also the poetry and even elegance, of an increasingly constructed landscape. He was given a fellowship to come to America in 1996, and made extraordinary pictures of American public works projects that reflect an unmistakable Japanese aesthetic.

Toshio Shibata was born in 1949 and his work has been exhibited internationally since 1971. His work has been collected by major museums including Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Sprengel Museum, Hannover; and Centre national de la Photographie, Paris. He was given a mid-career retrospective at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography in 2008. In 2013 the Peabody Essex Museum mounted a solo exhibtion of his work entitled Contructed Landscapes which featured 28 of his large scale prints.

See also ...

Landschapsfotograaf Toshio Shibata stelt tentoon in IBASHO galerie
25 juli, 2016 Francisca Hagen  0 Comment 2016, IBASHO, Laurent Ney, Toshio Shibata

IBASHO presenteert vanaf donderdag 15 september de eerste solotentoonstelling in België van de internationaal gerenommeerde Japanse fotograaf Toshio Shibata (1949, Tokyo). Als pionier van de Japanse landschapsfotografie staat Shibata bekend voor het verkennen van het delicate evenwicht tussen door mens gemaakte structuren en de natuur. Door het fotograferen van stroomgebieden, wegen, dammen en bruggen, onderzoekt hij de unieke uitstraling van dergelijke structuren in zijn geboorteland. Door zijn lens ziet een rivierbeddingen er plots uit als een origami, en lijken watervallen wel kimono’s.

Toshio Shibata – Bridge

Het is voor het eerst dat de recente reeks die hij realiseerde voor Laurent Ney, de bekende Belgische-Luxemburgse architect en ingenieur van vele bruggen te zien is buiten Japan. Twee kunstenaars en twee media ontmoeten elkaar in een gemeenschappelijk onderwerp: de menselijk-technische structuur ingebed in een natuurlijke omgeving. Beide kunstenaars analyseren topografie, geologie en landschap en zoeken naar essentiële vormen die hun kunstmatige creaties benadrukken. De tentoonstelling presenteert daarnaast ook een selectie van Shibata’s alom geprezen kleurenfoto’s van door de mens gemaakte structuren in het Japanse landschap – zoals de ‘Rode Brug’ – die door Shibata getransformeerd zijn tot beelden van een tijdloze, abstracte en schilderkunstige kwaliteit. In het kader van de viering van 150 jaar vriendschap tussen België en Japan dit jaar, zijn in de galerie tot slot ook Shibata’s vroegste zwart-wit foto’s te zien die hij maakte tijdens zijn verblijf in België en tijdens zijn reizen naar Nederland en Schotland.

Toshio Shibata

Shibata heeft een speciale band met België. Hij studeerde schilderkunst in Japan en kwam in 1975 naar Gent met een beurs. De directeur van de Koninklijke Academie in Gent stelde hem voor om fotografie te studeren in plaats van schilderkunst, wat meteen het begin was van zijn fotografische carrière. Na het zien van de tentoonstelling ‘The American West: Honderd jaar Landscape Photography’ in Parijs (1978), een groepstentoonstelling met het werk van 64 kunstenaars, waaronder Ansel Adams en andere West Coast fotografen uit de VS, besloot Shibata zich enkel nog te richten op landschapsfotografie.

De tentoonstelling gaat van start op donderdag 15 september in bijzijn van de kunstenaar, van 19.00 tot 22.00 uur. De tentoonstelling loopt tot en met zondag 16 oktober. Galerie IBASHO is te vinden aan de Tolstraat 22 in Antwerpen en is geopend van vrijdag tot en met zondag van 14.00 tot 18.00 uur en op afspraak.

woensdag 24 augustus 2016

One of the First serious Documentations of the French Paris Mai/June 68 movement Graphic Design

1969; Haan, Tristan; Parijs , mei-juni ' 68 : tentoonstelling onder auspiciën van het Internationaal Instituut voor Sociale Geschiedenis; one of the first serious documentations of the French Mai/June 68 movement, with explanations of the many organisations, groups and groupscules (taxonomie of a forest of acronyms); all material can be found in the archives of the IISG, though no concordance register has been made to my knowledge between the archives and the catlogue; a great pitty that all this information is only available in Dutch.

See also

Paris a brulé THE PROTEST PHOTOBOOK 1956 – 2013 MARTIN PARR GERRY BADGER Pierre Juillet Christian Joubert Michel Hermans Photography

The first exhibition on the French May June 1968 movement took place in the Museum Fodor in Amsterdam, an annex of the museum of modern art (Stedelijk Museum). At that time such a thing could not take place in France were people could still be persecuted for certain deeds during the rising and even having lots of protest documentation could make one a suspect. Through a collaboration between the Stedelijk Museum and the International Institute of Social History (IISG), both based in Amsterdam, this exhibition could take place. The IISG had been collecting historical documents from and about revolutionary, workers and social movement since 1935 (a Dutch initiative as a reaction on the take over of power by the Nazis in Germany and Austria and the endangered socialist archives). Also this time the IISG saw it as its task to actively collect materials of the French May movement on the spot. The Institute had already some collecting ’consultants’ in France and several staff members from Amsterdam went to France to add with this task. There were also many people related in some way to the Institute who did the same thing on their own initiative. From July onward with the movement going down several people in France feared strong repression and were looking for a safe place to store documentation they had gathered and donated it to the IISG. All this came together and already in the summer of 1968 a big collection of all kind of documents had been established in Amsterdam.

The most primary documents were the leaflets and handouts of thousands of different initiatives, often duplicated, or printed in a simple way. Next came the posters and handwritten manifestos of all kind of sizes and with a great variety of subjects. Though nowadays the strong graphic language of the silkscreened posters produced at ‘atelier de beaux arts’ in Paris are mostly remembered, these were certainly not the first ones, and in fact the text based mostly handwritten wall papers and manifestos with all kind of declarations and calls are much more typical for the May 68 movement. New newspapers, magazines, journals, and dispatches of all kind were brought forth by this movement, some with strong graphics like the paper ‘Action’. Comments, proposals, manifestos, programs and the like in the form of brochures (pamphlets) flooded the bookshops and news stalls, were handed out, or sold on the streets. Photographers, filmmakers and radio journalists made all kind of independent registrations, like an association of independent filmmakers that undertook newsreel productions, taking the name ‘Etats Géneraux du Cinéma”. Of course the movement also reflected on existing news media that often published special editions or issues. Already during the first month books started to come out, documenting specific events, discussing or reflecting.

All this material had to be ordered in some way to show it and make it understandable. The head of the French department of the IISG, Tristan Haan, who before that time had been sunk deep into the 18th century and the radical writings of ”le curé Meslier”, woke up to the present and made 244 short descriptions and commentaries of such time documents, adding an overview of 153 groups and their obscure acronyms and abbreviations, many of which only existed for a few weeks. This formed the basis for the catalogue that showed also 135 leaflets, handwritten manifestos and posters, all translated into Dutch. The catalogue was a low budget production, so only pure black and white reproduction could be afforded at that time (even making rasters pictures would have been too expensive; difficult to understand for new generation working with graphic computer systems). Still when I leaf through the catalogue now in 2005 it breathes a graphic atmosphere that relates well with the spirit of the 68 movement.

There were film showings with life translations during the exhibition. The catalogue had special sections on movies and gramophone record documents and an international documentation of the 68 movement in the world of art.

Maybe here should also be noted that the Stedelijk Museum direction was not all that happy about this initiative. They somewhat feared its revolutionary impact, so when we proposed to hang the reprints of some May 68 posters, like the one with the clubbing CRS riot policeman, on the official advertisement boards of the museum had, this was refused. It took a decade or so before all the simple handwritten and badly duplicated documents were forgotten and only the nice and artistic looking documents could get popular with the curators and were often selected in museum exhibitions as emblems of Mai 68.

After 25 years the French archival institutions had catched up and even did better than us foreign pioneering documentarists. The National Library of France undertook a serious project to catalogue all the leaflets they had been able to put their hands on and even initiated a microfilmed edition that has preserved all together 10.067 handouts/leaflets of the May/June 1968 movement.

“Mai 68” has become the shortest way to denote a whole complex of social movements in the spring of 1968 in France and elsewhere, with May as the hot spot and June as a month of cool down.

Ten years before general De Gaulle had been elected president and founded what is called the “Ve Republique” with new strong presidential powers. A technocrat policy was pursued, by a center-right majority government, to modernize France, an imperial power that had just lost its colonies and still was a half agricultural, half industrial country. While major efforts were made to push a new high tech industry that would provide both cheap energy and military nuclear power, changes in other domains lacked behind. Former agricultural workers and small farmers had been driven from the fields into the new factories, soon demanding better working conditions which were most often denied. The educational domain, that had to supply the cadre for the new industrial order, had grown in size but failed to adapt to the demands of the younger generation. It was not surprising that something stirred up here, at first with small groups of students criticizing their own living conditions and future prospects in Strasbourg in 1966 (with the pamphlet “De la misère dans le millieu étudiant”/about he misery of student life) and later in the new Parisian suburban university of Nanterre in January 1968. During the opening ceremony of a new swimming pool, students interrupted the French minister of sports Missoffe who proclaimed that this pool was a sign of how the government took good care of the health of the students. The interruption was about the repressive role of sport and the strict gender separation in the dormitories of the Nanterre university campus and the resulting “unhygienic mental situation” for students because of their frustrated sexuality (a way of arguing coming directly from the writings of Wilhelm Reich in the thirties, rediscovered by French youth at that time). This last incident was the beginning of a series of conflicts at the Nanterre campus and led to its closure in March. This only radicalized the student movement. At the same time there were all kind or worker’s protest and action outside the Paris region, like in Caen at the SAVIEM factory. It certainly was not only a student movement, though at first they did get most of the publicity.

During the first of May demonstration in Paris, that was for the first time since long officially allowed, students from Nanterre that tried to join in were chased from the march by Communist Party trade unionists(CGT). For a long time there had been frictions between the rather orthodox French Communist Party and other socialist parties, unions and groupings. A period of oscillating events starts: demonstrations, counter-demonstrations provocations: like an arson attack of a student office at the Sorbonne - possibly by a right wing group - and protests meeting against it in the University compound. When the protesters are chased out by the police, the movement spreads over the neighbouring quarter, the Quartier Latin. The student movement is out in the streets. More demonstrations and closures of Universities follow. The movement widens, involving also high school students. Hard confrontations between demonstrators and police, defense and storming of old fashioned barricades that block Parisian boulevards. More and more arrests, wounded and people troubled by what appears in some case to have been more than “just” tear gas (some say it was nerve gas). The student movement triggers more social unrest, in all parts of the country occupations of factories occur, like Sud Aviation in Nantes and Renault in Cléon. Journalists of the ORTF (French state radio and television) form a committee. In Paris the Odéon theater is occupied and functions as a permanent platform for debates on social issues. Solidarity demonstration of students and workers occur, railways and air traffic is blocked by strikes. Not all strikes are called by the trade unions, several are directly initiated by workers, wild-cat strikes. All kind of sectors of society start to express their grievances with the existing system, school teachers, parents of school kids, art students, journalists, neighbourhood committees, an action committee in the National Library, even sport professionals who issue a leaflet with the slogan “le football aux footballeurs (football to the football players). Several university buildings are occupied, not just in Paris but also in the province.

All this seems to have little effect on the level of official politics. A vote of censure in the national assembly on the 22. of May is repulsed. A proposal for amnesty for arrested students is accepted as an attempt to still the uproar. All kind of action committees are formed to discuss social issues of a specific segment of society and take practical action. A general assembly with representatives of over a hundred of such committees takes place in Paris. There are some television speeches of president De Gaulle, at first disavowing, later promising a national referendum on a change of social structures that would allow for more “participation” of French citizens. Behind doors negotiations between trade unions and government start, while the movement continues on the streets and in occupied educational institutions and factories. The workers of the Renault Billancourt factories in Paris refuse to accept the first negotiation results of their unions. Mass meetings follow, the government can not deny or ignore the movement anymore. At first the minister of education Perefitte is dismissed and soon after, on May 30, president De Gaulle dismisses the parliament, new elections are announced. A call is launched for the forming of ‘citizens militia’ to defend the Republic. A big demonstration of Gaullist supporters marches down the Champs Elysée.

Describing the aftermath in the same way will go beyond the purpose of this short overview. Slowly over the weeks the waves of social unrest calm down. The trade unions declare that they had no political intend with the strikes, just economic demands and start to force the striking workers to accept the agreement with the government (called the “accords of Grenelle”, after the street where the negotiations took place). The elections at the end of June do not alter the relations between the political parties. The left opposition is at that time too much divided to offer an alternative. It takes till 1981, when the newly formed French Socialist Party under Mitterand, succeeds in allying (however temporarily) most of the left political forces, getting both a parliamentary majority and the presidency, though only for a short while...

dinsdag 16 augustus 2016

Views & Reviews Photographing Japan’s most ancient folkloric Traditions Charles Fréger Photography

Photographing Japan’s most ancient folkloric traditions
Written by Tom Seymour

Images from the series Yokainoshima: Island of Monsters © Charles Fréger, courtesy Thames & Hudson

Extraordinary photographs of Japanese folk costume and ritual – from Charles Fréger, the celebrated author of Wilder Mann - are published in a new photobook.

In rural Japan, the passage of the year is marked by festivals and rituals held amid the changing seasons. And, at New Year, strange creatures come down from the mountains.

They come to deliver a message to the people below, and frighten their children.

These are the Toshigami, also known as Namahage in Akita province, or Suneka in Iwate.

French photographer Charles Fréger went to meet these folkloric creatures face to face for his series Yokainoshima – a neologism that translates as ‘island of monsters’.

Elaborate outfits, crafted from textiles and elements from the natural environment, are donned in agricultural and fishing communities throughout the country to celebrate seasonal rites of fertility and abundance.

There are also many rituals relating to longevity, prosperity and warding off misfortune. In these too, spirit ‘visitors’, believed to come from the sea, the mountains and the sky are welcomed into communities across the Japanese archipelago.

Over the course of two years, Fréger journeyed the length of Japan, from north to south, photographing yokai, oni or Toshigami figures as they enacted rituals intended to ensure a fertile harvest, and to chase away evil spirits.

As a counterpoint to Fréger’s earlier Wilder Mann series, devoted to ‘wild’ figures from European folk culture, Yokainoshima presents the subjects in staged poses and settings evoking the landscapes of Japan, while settings for the yokai, by young architect Jumpei Matsushima, emphasises their colourful costumes still further.

Fréger’s portraits are framed with essays written by Toshiharu Ito and Akihiro Hatanaka, specialists in Japanese folk culture and anthropology, which set the huge variety of eclectic clothing in ethnographic context whilst describing the many local festivals, dances and rituals they represent.

As Ito, a specialist in Japanese folk culture and anthropology, writes in his essay: “Fréger’s distinctive method of distillation contrasts composition and repetition, colour and location, rhythm and pattern, posture and movement, the artificial and the natural.”

Yokainoshima: Island of Monsters is available now from Thames & Hudson. For more information, see here.

Yôkai in het wild

Alleen in Japan kan dit eiland bestaan, waar mensen en geesten samenleven. En de enige die ze van dichtbij heeft gezien, is fotograaf Charles Fréger. Hij legde de monsters in het wild vast, op het onvindbare eiland Yokainoshima.

Het eiland Onigashima, een van de vele, kleine mythische eilanden aan de kust van Japan, lijkt op het eerste gezicht onbewoond. Kaal, verlaten. De bewoners verwachten geen bezoek. Ze speuren het vasteland af, op zoek naar luie, ijdele zondaars die een lesje en een tik verdienen. Mensen zijn er niet, en dat is maar goed ook.

Alleen op Yokainoshima (eiland van de Yôkai) leven mensen schouder aan schouder met de soort die al vele namen heeft gekend: geesten, noemen we ze, energieën, trollen, demonen, feeën. De Japanners spreken van Yôkai. Eilandbewoners communiceren met de Yôkai door middel van uitbundige rituelen, waarbij de mens in de huid van de geest kruipt. De geest zou de mens op Yokainoshima voor zijn spiegelbeeld aanzien: de mens draagt een riem met 81 bamboestokken, stuk voor stuk drie meter lang, elk versierd met vijftien bloemen. Een paraplu van vruchtbaarheid, en wie eronder staat, heeft geluk. De mens danst een leeuwendans om het dorp te beschermen voor het kwaad van buitenaf. De mens verstopt zich achter rode maskers en achter grote bijlen waarmee geesten onder het aardoppervlak wakker worden geklopt voor de zomer. Zo vraagt de mens de Yôkai om hulp bij droogte, overstroming, plagen en orkanen.

Engelen op je schouder
‘Ooit leek me dit eiland, waar werelden naast elkaar bestaan en mensen en geesten samenleven, doodnormaal,’ schrijft de Japanse vertaalster en dichteres Ryoko Sekiguchi in het voorwoord. ‘Pas toen ik mijn thuisland verliet, kwam ik er achter dat zo’n wereld nergens anders bestaat.’

‘Wil je zeggen dat in dit land alleen mensen en dieren leven?’ vroeg ze aan haar nieuwe Franse vrienden. ‘Er moet toch meer zijn? Je weet waar ik het over heb, toch? Heb je ze werkelijk nog nooit gezien?’

Nee, zeiden haar vrienden, er is hier in Frankrijk geen geest te bekennen. Boom na boom wordt gekapt, zonder dat er iemand voor heeft moeten boeten. Geen boom, geen struik, geen konijn of klaproos wordt herdacht. De bewakers van de natuur hoeven in Frankrijk niet op een bedankje te rekenen: Yokainoshima ligt ver achter de horizon.

 Waar precies, dat weet Ryoko niet. Alleen in haar gedachten zette ze voet aan land, maar ze kent het eiland van de Yôkai uit haar gedachten. We kennen ze allemaal: het zijn de kabouters die je kamer opruimen als jij het niet doet, die de slingers ophangen nog vóór je jarig uit je bed stapt. Het zijn de engelen op je schouder die aan je stuur trekken en een slippende tegenligger ontwijken, die je een stap opzij laten zetten voordat er in je verse voetafdrukken een piano te pletter valt. Het zijn de schaduwen in de hoek die naar je staren zodra je het licht uit doet, en het monster in het donker onder je bed.

Vervelende Franse geesten
De enige die de Yôkai ooit van dichtbij heeft gezien, is fotograaf Charles Fréger: van 2013 tot 2015 zocht hij ze vijf keer op en legde ze vast. De monsters in het wild, ontdaan van rituele feestelijkheden. Poten (voeten) in het zand, haren (stro) in de wind. Met een boek vol foto’s keerde hij ongedeerd terug naar Frankrijk. Toch lukt het ook Fréger niet het eiland op de kaart aan te wijzen. Vijf keer vond hij Yokainoshima, maar nooit op dezelfde plaats. Sommigen zeggen dat hij het eiland verzonnen heeft, met Yôkai en al. ‘Een uitvinding’ noemt hij het zelf.

‘Maar nu ze gefotografeerd zijn, leven ze op papier,’ zegt Ryoko. Ze hebben de oceaan doorkruist en zijn naar het Westen gekomen in de tas van Charles Fréger. Ze hebben hun spullen gepakt, zijn geëmigreerd en burgeren langzaam in. ‘De Fransen moeten ze nog een beetje leren kennen,’ schrijft de dichteres. Hoe Franser de geesten zijn, hoe vervelender. ‘Die ene die het laatste stukje toiletpapier opeet als ik al geplast heb. Die is vast en zeker Frans.’

Een tijdje woonde er eentje bij haar in. ‘Als ik thuiskwam, stonden er noedels voor me klaar. Ik was zo eenzaam tijdens mijn eerste paar jaren in Frankrijk. Vanuit mijn eigen appartement zag ik hoe gelukkig andere huishoudens eruitzagen. Ik was zo ontzettend jaloers. Het monster voelde dat ik ongelukkig was en is voor mij van Yokainoshima naar een ver, ver land verhuisd. Ik zie het nog voor me, hoe hij speelde met de radijsjes op het balkon. Wie weet waar hij nu is?’

Charles Fréger, ‘Yokainoshima, Island of Monsters. Japanese folk rituals’, Thames & Hudson 2016, 256 p.
De tentoonstelling is nog tot 25 september te zien is op Les rencontres d’Arles in Frankrijk.