Yutaka Takanashi “Niche Tokyo”

Dates: Aug 22 – Sep 26, 2015
Location: Taka Ishii Gallery Photography / Film
Opening reception: Saturday, Aug 29, 18:00 – 20:00

Taka Ishii Gallery Photography / Film is pleased to present “Niche Tokyo,” a solo exhibition of works by Yutaka Takanashi from August 22 to September 26. This will be Takanashi’s second solo exhibition with Taka Ishii Gallery and include 13 works from his new series “Niche Tokyo,” the third installment of his three-part work which comprises his previous series “Nostalghia” and “Kakoi-machi (Fencing city).”

Since starting his photographic practice in the late 1950s, Takanashi has used various methodologies in a numerous series of works, which all consistently addressed the “city.” He has always explored the interface between observation and participation in photography. In this current series, which was informed by Masahiko Shimada’s novel Looking for a Niche (2012) and Jun Tanaka’s ecological analysis of the city, Takanashi has focused on searching for niches in the city. Instead of looking at the transformations of the city itself, Takanashi has collected traces of things used in countless people’s actions to capture the contours of the urban environment and document the city’s “ecological landscape.”

An environment corresponding to the survival of a certain species of the animal is called “ecological niche,” but, again, it is not the physical environment, but it is the space that can be found only after some sort of deeds were repeatedly taken place by the animals. Likewise, “livable urban cities” are not merely a body of buildings and architectures, but must be ecological niche for the current human species. In order to record ecological landscape or ecological niche, it is not sufficient to objectively take a photo of the environment, but it is essential to capture “a feel of the photo.”

Jun Tanaka, ‘Fortune-telling for Urban Cities’, Yutaka Takanashi, IN’, Shinjuku Shobo, 2011, p.143

Following Takanashi’s “Tokyo-jin (Tokyoites)” (1965) and “Tokyo-jin 1978–1983 (Tokyoites 1978–1983)”, in which he observed the changes of the times using a snapshot aesthetic, the current series, which is the first since the previously mentioned two to include “Tokyo” in its title, is an attempt to capture a specific space rather than an abstract notion of the city.

Banter between neighborhood merchants and customers; high-pitched screams of children
A momentarily audible accent that gives away a person’s hometown, old people gossiping
And the icy laughter of the people
I thought I’d capture the spaces in which the niche reverberated with voices like these
I wanted to record spaces that are filled with in-betweens

 Excerpted from Takanashi’s postscript to Niche Tokyo (2015)

The current series carries on the criticality seen in Takanshi’s previous series “Nostalghia,” which showed the “lack of bottomless depth” of the sleek urban surface, and “Kakoi-machi,” which captured cracks in the city’s enclosures, which he read as the city’s gestures and “a sign of possession and desire.” In this series, however, the photographer’s body and eyes have delved, and strolled, deeper into the “livable urban city” to capture the psychological niches and the trace of human life he found in them. The series is also a frank documentation of the way people today co-exist with the development of their habitats.

A book Niche Tokyo will also be published in conjunction with the exhibition.
【Publication detail】
Yutaka Takanashi, Niche Tokyo
Published by Taka Ishii Gallery Photography / Film (2015)
Limited edition of 200, all copies signed by Yutaka Takanashi
Retail price: ¥ 8,400- (tax excl.)
soft cover, total 112 pages, 55 illustrations
Essay by Shino Kuraishi and postscript by Yutaka Takanashi (English and Japanese)

Yutaka Takanashi was born in Tokyo in 1935. After graduating from Nihon University (department of photography) in 1957, he enrolled in living design course (evening class) of the Kuwasawa Design School in 1959 and studied under Kiyoji Otsuji. Takanashi has, on the one hand, worked on the front lines of commercial photography since he joined the Nippon Design Center in 1961, while also received numerous awards, including the 8th Japan Photo Critics Association Newcomer Award (1964), the 5th Biennale de Paris Grand Prix for Photography (1967), the 34th and 43rd of the Photographic Society of Japan Annual Prize (1985, 1993), the 3rd Annual Prize of “Society of Photography” (1991). In 1968, together with Takuma Nakahira, Koji Taki and Takahiko Okada, he began publishing the photography magazine PROVOKE, which stopped its activities in 1970. In 1993, together with Genpei Akasegawa and Yutokutaishi Akiyama, he formed the “Leica Alliance.” His representative works include “Toshi-e (Towards the City)” (1974), “Machi (Town)” (1977), “Tokyo-jin 1978-1983 (Tokyoites 1978-1983)” (1983), “Hatsukuni (Pre-Landscape)” (1993), “Chimeiron (Genius Loci, Tokyo)” (2000), “NOSTALGHIA” (2004) and “Kakoi-machi” (2007). His major exhibitions include “Field Notes of Light”, The National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo (2009) and “Yutaka Takanashi”, Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson (Paris, 2012). In 2012, his photography book IN’ won the 31st Ken Domon Award.

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