Winter? Spring? Who knows? Fifty-seven Views of Japan
Winter? Spring? Who knows?
Fifty-seven Views of Japan
By Michael Kenna
*In memory of Martine d’Arc (1937-2011)
Michael Kenna has been photographing Japan since his first visit there in 1987. After some time, his voyages to the country of the rising sun became more frequent and transformed from work trips to meditative, almost pilgrimage experiences.
It is difficult if not impossible to talk about Michael Kenna’s photography neglecting poetry. And most importantly, it is unnecessary, as each of Kenna’s photographs can be seen as visual poems themselves.
When talking about Japan, a poem becomes a haiku. Kenna’s Japanese series do have an essence of the haiku at very first glance, but if one looks closely, even more resemblance can be found: minimalism and the amount of emotional information one can get from them, accents followed by pauses - moments of the separation - that create the rhythm, and the strong presence of the seasons.
Kenna’s photographs often reveal the process of their creation - the moon traveling throughout the night sky, snow transforming into the white mist - all are the results of the long exposure, sometimes counting hours and hours. No wonder he compares his trips to Japan to meditation, as the journey he’s embarking on every time he goes out to work, requires a lot of waiting, patience, will to observe and to give up control - as the things that happen while the picture is taken are unpredictable. So are the results that sometimes show invisible forms of nature that remain unseen for the eyes of the observer.
Kenna himself often talks about the relationship between him and the objects he photographs, how sometimes these relationships become friendships, and going back to take another photo of the same tree is like meeting with an old friend. Because of his attitude, the observation turns into a conversation, where two participants are present.
It’s almost like the landscape too, stays still like the human whose portrait is being painted and lets the photographer capture its character.
Daido Moriyama, in his introduction to Kenna’s book ‘Hokkaido’, talks about ‘Landscape of the Soul’. It might mean a land that can be seen and felt as a landscape of one’s soul or photographs seen as a refined expression of one’s soul.
Winter? Spring? Who knows? And does it really matter when Micahel Kenna offers fifty-seven views of Japan - landscapes from different places and times, all observed and experienced by the artist.
Besides the fifty-seven photographs of Japan,Tbilisi Photography & Multimedia Museum also features the collection of photographs produced by Micahel Kenna in Georgia in 2008 while visiting Tbilisi, Ananuri, Mukhatskaro, Kazbegi and Batumi. Thanks to generous support of the artists, these photographs are part of the permanent collection of Tbilisi Photography & Multimedia Museum.
* The exhibition is organized in memory of Martine d’Arc (1937-2011), a French professional of photography that has been working as Michael Kenna’s agent covering Europe for more than 2 decades. Exhibiting in Tbilisi the photographs from Japan by Michael Kenna was one of her last projects before her sudden death.