European Eyes on Japan
John Davies, Marco Bohr, Cary Markerink, Mette Tronvoli
12th November 2008 – 9th January 2009
With its huge influence upon 20th century culture and economics, it is
easy to forget that Japan was an unknown quantity to the rest of the world
until the 1850s.
Even today Japan provides inspiration for many western artists and filmmakers
due to its seemingly otherworldly cities teeming with people and neon
lights. It is probably with such a stereotyped view in mind that the EU-Japan
Festival began an exchange of artistic ideas between western photographers
in Japanese locations.
Of the more interesting works on display in this exhibition are those
by Marco Bohr and Cary Markerink. Bohr’s portraits situate his subjects
within a typical Japanese location holding what looks like a picture of
the setting. Not only does Bohr cleverly create a tension between what
is the focus of the piece but in so doing asks the viewer to look closer
at the setting and its details rather than take it for granted as western
eyes might want to.
Similarly Cary Markerink’s work places black and white close-ups
of various faces next to brightly coloured streets and cityscapes. The
not so subtle effect forces the link between the people and their habitat.
The portraits have a slightly voyeuristic feel to them but, like a Lev
Kuleshov experiment, placed next to each other directly influence our
reading of a location we might otherwise take for granted.
There are few outstanding pieces in this collection but anyone who enjoys
Japanese culture should find the exhibit a rewarding experience. From
Mette Tronvoli’s women collecting seaweed along the coast to John
Davies’ clash of the spiritual Mt Fuji with the industrial landscape
that surrounds it, these pictures belong to a wider design that will hopefully
create a fresh perspective of Japan and its people.