The Dawn of Modernity – Faces of Japan Between Edo and Meiji

Intermediatheque

poster for The Dawn of Modernity – Faces of Japan Between Edo and Meiji

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This special photographic panel exhibition, Mobilemuseum’s “The Dawn of Modernity – Faces of Japan Between Edo and Meiji” is held at Ueno Park (on the North side of Tokyo Bunka Kaikan). To coincide with this outdoors exhibition, Intermediatheque offers a special presentation of original photographic prints from the late Edo and early Meiji periods.
On these 20 photographs people of varying age appear, from children to elderly men. Along with the Emperor (then revered as a divinity), the Tokugawa shogun leading a military society, lords sent to Europe to represent the shogunate, officials and interpreters, as well as foreigners established in Japan, various social strata are represented along with anonymous people such as mothers with their children, merchants and workers.
Once in the studio, whether they stand in front of a drop curtain or sit on a chair, whether they are officials or private individuals, the reasons behind these people exposing themselves to the camera vary. However, on every single photograph, a similar tension enveloping the subject’s body is perceptible, as well as a certain perplexity in their stare. They express the complex feelings people then felt when facing this unfamiliar optical recording device. Modern civilization infiltrated traditional society, independently of individuals’ will. Here are the faces of such people confronting this invisible pressure.
Western people on their hand, developed a stereotype of Japan full of shogun, samurai and geisha, based on photographs and paintings. Today, this image of Japanese people is still dominant abroad. Such images, once imprinted on our memories, cannot easily be erased. These photographs recording the many faces of this era long lost convey the visual reality of Japan under Meiji Restoration, both reserved and lavish.

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from March 06, 2018 to April 15, 2018

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