Her work uses a classic Collotype printing technique and follows in the tradition of Japanese photography masters such as Eikoh Hosoe, Shoji Ueda, and Yasui Nakaji, writes Tate’s curator of photography and international art, Simon Baker. He is talking about Japanese photographer Akiko Takizawa, who in February received the 2014 Prix HSBC pour la Photographie with Swiss photographer Delphine Burtin.
Since winning the prize, which was created in 1995 to “support and promote an emerging generation of photographers”, Takizawa has embarked on an intensive tour of her work. She will also be producing a photo book, Where We Belong, with French publisher Actes Sud, to be launched at Les Rencontres d’Arles this summer.
From 7 May until 1 June, Takizawa’s work will be on show, alongside Burtin’s, at Maison de la Photographie in Lille, France. The Japanese photographer will be showing a selection of Collotype and silver gelatine prints taken between 2004 and 2012 from six series: Najima, Headland, Waterfall, Osorezan, Goshogawara, Wedding up in Heaven, and Night Snow.[bjp_ad_slot]
In addition to the Prix HSBC tour, the London-based photographer is showing 20 Collotype prints at Toraya Kyoto Gallery until 11 May as part of Kyotographie International Photography Festival. The festival, now in its second year, was founded by French photographer Lucille Reyboz and Yusuke Nakanishi.
Takizawa, who was born in 1971 in Fukuota city in Japan, has lived and worked in the UK for 20 years. She holds an MA Fine Arts from the Royal College of Art, and before this completed her BA in Fine Art at University of the West of England, Bristol.
Her practice centres around the 150-year-old Collotype printing process, which orginated in France, but has now been all but discontinued on a worldwide level. For the past few years she has worked closely with Benrido in Kyoto, Japan, the last remaining Collotype company in the world, to produce her prints.
Takizawa’s work takes in many themes, which include: home, family, a sense of loss, displacement, death and the afterlife, and what it means to live in the modern world. The majority of her work focuses on her home country, and Japanese culture and traditions feature strongly. For example, in one series, Osorezan (2012), Takizawa explores the Japanese belief that there is not a clear boundary between life and death. The images were taken in Aomori at the north end of the main Island in Japan where people flock from all over the country to ‘connect’ with lost relatives and friends. It is thought that after death, human spirits rise up into the mountains, and at Mount Osore or ‘Fear Mountain’ it is possible to speak to the deceased through a blind shaman. While queuing to see the shaman, strangers often open up to each other and share their stories, says Takizawa.
“I am constantly questioning this modern time we are living in,” Takizawa writes in an artist statement. “I was fascinated by the contrast between Japan as a fast, modern society, which is dominated by high technology and people who live in isolation, and what I have seen in Osorezan – how people secretly believe in such supernatural things, hope to get some answers for their lives, and open up to talk to strangers. By capturing such people in a specific place through photography I hope to understand the world we are living in, and where we belong.”