Rinko Kawauchi, Part II

I have to say that the Rinko Kawauchi talk last night was a bit of a let down. I don’t know what I was expecting, but she talked mostly about how she got into photography (most of which is covered in the interview link I posted yesterday) and the photography that she showed was all from the Foil website.

On the up side she did show some video work. The work consisted of two five minute sections of a larger twenty minute piece that she will be showing in New York. Ultimately she is planning to do an hour long piece. The video consists of short snippets, anywhere from two to ten or fifteen seconds, of a lot of the stuff you would expect her to be interested in, light sparkling on water, carp, fireworks, a butterfly flapping its wings, etc. Some of the clips have ambient sound, some do not. The reason she gave for her experiments in video is that when she photographs things she feels a lot of “stress” and wanted to be able to capture the motion of things as well.

A few other random points of interest;

To use Alec Soth’s differentiation between book photographers and wall photographers, she is definitely a book photographer. This is probably obvious to anyone who has looked at one of her books and marveled at their exquisite pairings and lyrical sequencing, but it was nice to hear her say (albeit through a translator) that she felt that books were “the most complete form of my photography”.


Kawauchi credits three people for her development as an artist; Katsumi Asaba, an art directior who encouraged her early in her career as a photographer and gave her some commercial assignments, the publisher Masakazu Takei (who was at the lecture and seems to be quite a character, see here), and Martin Parr, who invited her to show at Photo Arles in 2004 and introduced her work to a wider audience.


I also thought the way she talked about her first book, Utatane, was interesting. Usually the title is translated as “catnap”, but Kawauchi thought of it more as the place between waking and sleep, or between life and death and that she was “standing in the midst of this divide.” Utatane is also the work that most closely relates to her new video work in that the relation from image to image is less apparent than in her other work. In all her work, images are captured without thinking (無心) and she likes to complete projects while they still have life/freshness (いきがいい). Deciding what she is going to shoot beforehand makes it uninteresting.


After the lecture I had the opportunity to ask her if she felt any kinship to the other young women photographers she’s often lumped together with (specifically Yurie Nagashima, Miwa Nanigawa and Hiromix who won the Ihei Kimura Award the year before she did). Her response was that she didn’t because she felt she came to be known slightly later than they did.

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