From the infinitely continuous and endlessly overlapping moments I encounter, I capture singular moments to which I have a physical (and cellular) response. By photographing concrete things, I may be trying to understand nature and reality, which I cannot comprehend despite giving them thought, and myself, which is a part of them.
Michio Yamauchi, Postscript, HONG KONG 1995-1997, shashasha, 2015, n.p.
To make his photographs, Yamauchi sniffs out core neighborhoods of the cities he shoots, and walks its streets incessantly. His nimble footwork allows him to point his camera at and shoot cities and the people traveling to and from within them as if he were directly capturing his physical responses to fragments of reality. His images captured through this tireless taking of “physical risks in encounters with others”.
As Yamauchi states, “Fundamentally, people are hopelessly the same.” The people he captures appear differently terms of dress, facial expression, and urban atmosphere depending on when and where he shoots them, but their gazes and gestures share similarities that transgress historical moments, nationalities and geography. Yamauchi has continuously shot these “human archetypes”, in other words, appearances that manifest internal emotions and forms that are universally shared by humans, on one hand, and the urban places that are cultivated by humans and in turn cultivate humans, on the other. The resulting body of work is also attractive as a documentation of people’s memories and cities’ histories.
One unique characteristic of photography is that it allows you to look at an old photograph and sense history–to be certain that such a time existed in the past. When the people and the light in the photographs are revitalized as if they have traveled through time, and I feel like the air of the times had come back to life, I sometimes feel physically excited. All kinds of thoughts arise and all I can do is stare at the image.
Michio Yamauchi, Postscript, TOKYO 2005-2007, Sokyusha, 2008, n.p.
Since the early 1990s, Yamauchi has shot various Asian cities in addition to Tokyo. The images of Tokyo, which has shot since the 1980s, however, constitute his origin and life’s work. This exhibition, which mixes new and old works shot in Tokyo, will serve to introduce Yamauchi’s powerfully intense street snapshots, which he makes by sharpening his visual perception of the real world and devoting his life to the medium.
An exhibition commemorating Yamauchi’s reception of the 35th Domon Ken Award will also be on from October 8 to December 25.
Press release courtesy Taka Ishii Gallery Photography / Film.