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b. 1965, Japan

Tomoko Yoneda Biography

In her photographs Tomoko Yoneda compresses multiple layers of history into a single image. She is perhaps best known for her project Scene, for which she visited former sites of conflict around the world, photographing them in their current, innocuous states while fully cognizant of their past significance, which she relates to viewers through titles that provide a frame for viewing and responding to the resulting images. The effect of this is to heighten every detail in each image, to give every last bench or shrub or building in the image the same importance as the whole, creating a telescopic relationship between the eyes of the people who participated in the referenced historical events, and the eyes of the photographer through to the eyes of the viewers.

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The strong element of research and investigation behind all of Yoneda's work is significant. "I had thought that I would be a journalist," she explained, "but my father was an amateur photographer and although I initially felt that photography would be too technical, I realized that I could communicate just as much through images as through words." Yoneda's personal connections to recent history have also exerted a strong influence on her creation of images investigating the idea of different viewpoints. "I was born in Japan in 1965, and so the stories that my parents told me of their experiences of the Second World War, such as being evacuated to the countryside as children, would be similar to those told by parents of my generation growing up in the West," she says. "And seeing an exhibition in Japan about Anne Frank when I was around the same age she was when she wrote her diary also had a great impact on me and my perception of the recent past."

Yoneda studied photography in Chicago and then at the RCA in London; she graduated in 1991. And in 1996 it was in East London where she made her first series of images that explored layers of history and memory, titled Topographical Analogy. Photographing rooms in empty tower blocks that were awaiting demolition, Yoneda focused on the patches of peeling paper and stains made on the walls over the years by emissions rising from the rooms' heaters—abstract traces of the lives of past occupants. "When I initially began photographing these spaces, I introduced other objects into the images, like a crumpled carpet or a painting on an easel, but then I realized that they weren't needed and that what I really wanted to investigate were bigger memories or moments."

Tomoko Yoneda Featured Artworks

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Tomoko Yoneda Recent Exhibitions

Tomoko Yoneda Represented By

ShugoArts contemporary art gallery in Tokyo, Japan ShugoArts Tokyo

Tomoko Yoneda In Ocula Magazine

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