Daido Moriyama Exhibit

Last Saturday I had a bit of free time to kill in downtown Tokyo, so I went to one of my favorite places:  The Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography.

Through the end of June they are running the 2008 award winners for photojournalism as well as a double exhibition of Daido MoriyamaMoriyama's exhibitions are a retrospective as well as a recent collection called "Hawaii".

The photojournalism winners was an amazing collection of modern photography, as one would expect, but they were also incredibly graphic.  Scenes of war-torn countryside, shanty towns, extreme poverty, death, and shocking rites of passage filled the gallery to the point of saturation.  While I recognize the importance of the display, it was hard to walk through for any extended amount of time.

The Moriyama exhibits were much tamer, if not any less interesting.  The retrospective suffered from over-exposure to Moriyama's style through no fault of his own.  Moriyama was a pioneer in using what were then "bad" techniques to produce photographic art – things like blur, high grain, stark contrast, off angles, etc. – that have since become so mainstream as to produce a feeling of "oh, this again" in the viewer.  Again, his work is important in a historical, big picture, context, but the exhibition itself did little for me.

On the other hand, Moriyama's "Hawaii" collection was fantastic.  Although he used many of the same techniques that made him famous, when seen together, the individual works combined into a moment much greater than the sum of its parts.  Of course, there were several photos that are moving in and of themselves, works that capture a single frame of time, a single piece of reflected and refracted light, but it was truly the collection that made an impact.

If you're in the Tokyo area, around Ebisu, the exhibitions are definitely worth checking out and the TMMoP is worth supporting in any case because of their consitant excellence.

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4 responses to “Daido Moriyama Exhibit

  1. Did you ever think you'd be writing, "Last Saturday I had a bit of free time to kill in downtown Tokyo" ? Ever once in a while it shocks me to look up at where I am… been… compared with from. It's as if day to day, I exist outside of, apart from my environment… then I look up and surprise myself until I sink back, tuning it out again.

  2. You remember one day you and I were walking through the Seattle Center and I stopped and said something like, "how the fuck did we end up in Seattle?" I have that reaction about once a week these days.

  3. I wish I had known about this when I was in Tokyo, I would of loved to check it out.

  4. That's kinda the trouble isn't it? Knowing what is going to be happening long enough before it actually does happen. I sympathize.

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