at Gallery 916
in the Odaiba, Kachidoki area
This event has ended - (2018-04-21 - 2018-05-20)
The photography space Gallery 916 closed its doors in May after its final exhibition, 68th Street: Memories of Light. The show presented a series of black and white photographs of light on paper by the prominent photographer and Gallery 916 director Yoshihiko Ueda. Named after Ueda’s birthday, the gallery opened on February 10th, 2012 and has drawn comparisons to the American photographer Alfred Stieglitz’s gallery on 291 Fifth Avenue in New York. In fact, Ueda is well acquainted with Stieglitz’s work, having referred to his abstract cloud series ‘Equivalents’ (1922-1935) as a “grand theatre of light.” Both Stieglitz’s cloud portraits and Ueda’s paper series reveal their artists’ personal interpretations and devotion to their subjects.
Ueda has long been intrigued by the mysterious lights of New York City, which he finds unlike those of Tokyo. Last year his curiosity prompted him to rent a room on 68th Street and take photographs on paper, a subject that fascinates him. The room became what he calls a “tiny theatre of light,” and from morning to twilight he chased the constant changes of daylight reflected through the high-rise buildings and the peculiar light seeping through the windows. The paper Ueda brought from Tokyo was a neutral kind that does not reflect extra light nor absorb an excessive amount of it. Every night he developed the shots he took during the day, eventually coming to the realization that they were his desired ideal. Light is what determines a photograph, and each day there was a growing intimacy as Ueda became more familiar with the subject.
This exhibition coincided with a 1000 copy limited-edition run of Ueda’s photography book 68th Street, released by the independent art book publisher United Vagabonds. The Tokyo-based publisher is led by editor Masanobu Sugatsuke, who has re-defined the art of editing and remains involved in projects from various creative fields. Sugatsuke previously collaborated with Ueda for A Life with Camera (2015), a photo book that captures Ueda’s 30 years of work with a mixture of portraits, landscapes, and advertising photography. The refined 68th Street is designed by the world-renowned New York art director Fabien Baron, an acquaintance of Ueda for more than 25 years. Ueda reached out to Baron, and following their instincts as artists, they created 68th Street. The book is printed and bound by SunM Color, a prestigious printing company based in Kyoto. It features 1000 dpi resolution (three times higher than normal printing), French-fold binding, and foil stamp embossing.
The joint effort between Ueda and Baron is a project that perfects every single detail. The subtleness of Baron’s design is complementary to Ueda’s simple and powerful prints. Ueda’s obsession with paper ensures no photograph is a replication of another; he has readily interpreted and seized the essence of the subjects in his photographs, wholly immersing himself in them. Likewise, for the series ‘Forest Impressions and Memories’ (1989-2017), Ueda delved into the wilderness to capture the sacred forests of Quinault, Yakushima, and the ancient trees of Kasuga Taisha shrine in Nara.
While A Life with Camera felt more like a conclusion or completion for Ueda, 68th Street seems like a beginning, as the artist comes closer to the photography he has been searching for. 68th Street: Memories of Light is a metaphysical exploration for the photographer by the simplicity of paper, a substance delicate and yet substantial.