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Body, Light, and Time: Tahara and Tanaka at Hara Museum of Contemporary Art

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Body, Light, and Time: Tahara and Tanaka at Hara Museum of Contemporary Art
“Bordeaux-11” (1980). Courtesy of: Keiichi Tahara & Time Out

‘Photosynthesis’ an exhibition showcasing the works of Keiichi Tahara, and special collaborative works with Min Tanaka is now on view at the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo. There is little over a week left to catch this show, so do not miss this historically important exhibition celebrating the life work of equally influential photographic artist and dance artist. Highlights of this exhibit are a collection of stunning black and white photographs that depict vulnerable bodies in various spaces which include plays on light and scale, among others. Influential and impactful, the career of Tahara is one that teaches collaboration and belief in oneself leads to inspiring outcomes.

The final images as seen in the portraits on view were made with Keiichi Tanaka. Both artists were drawn to and inspired by the difference in the quality of light that they experienced in Europe. These works were shot in various locations which included but were not limited to: Japan, United States and France. This was so the work could specifically respond to the light, space and time of the various locations.

“Paris-4” (1978). Courtesy of: Keiichi Tahara & Art-it-Asia

In 1978 Tahara and Tanaka met in Paris. Their mutual fascination with the body and light is what drew them together, and lead to a series of collaborations which incorporated multidisciplinary components of the practices of photography and dance, among others. Through the medium of dance, Tanaka continued to explore forms of the body through phases responsive to light and the body’s relation to space. Tahara found a lot of inspiration in this work, and photographed the work in black and white format. The images are a document that preserve the ephemeral nature of dance. For both men the main concern was to capture moments that could otherwise be forgotten. Fleeting and beautiful, the images are haunting in that they are evocative of the limited time we have to live.

Fleeting and beautiful, the images are haunting in that they are evocative of the limited time we have to live.

Keiichi Tahara was born in Kyoto, and died at the age of 65 in June 2017. Before his death, Tahara was working tirelessly to put together an exhibition with his work and Tanaka’s. In 2016 a book that shares the same title as the exhibition was released. The photographic works on view were originally only ever existing in book form, and later were printed and realized as an exhibition, which includes an impressive forty-six works. The ‘Photosynthesis’ series was originally conceived in the 1970’s and 1980’s shortly after Tahara and Tanaka had first met. Additional works included a performance by Tanaka five additional photographic works printed in 2016. The exhibition was originally installed at the National Gallery in Prague, Czech Republic before making it way to the Tokyo’s Hara Museum of Contemporary Art. Naturally, the work expanded into field of installation and sculpture. These works, like the photography works, were responsive to specific environments.

“New York-1” (1978). Courtesy of: Keiichi Tahara & Japan Times

Min Tanaka was born in Tokyo. He is a renowned dancer who continues to present to this day at 72 years old. At the beginning of his career in the 1960’s his training was central to classical ballet and modern dance. As he grew as a dancer, the development of his own practice began to take form. His own work would challenge the boundaries of the more rigid, traditional forms, as he began to experiment with a new set of structures to realize work true to his interests. In the period of 1960-1970, Tanaka developed his own style of dance, which has and continues to inspire audiences and critics both domestically and abroad. In the photograph Paris-4 (1978), one can see a grown man in a minimising fetal position of surrender. This could symbolise an active retreat from life, reality as it is known.

His own work would challenge the boundaries of the more rigid, traditional forms, as he began to experiment with a new set of structures to realize work true to his interests.

In Bordeaux-5 (1980), a man falling or undergoing the process of ascension is depicted. A shot of the back depicts a level of passivity to the viewer. It can be imagined though that the figure is immersed in his own environment. Because the body is so large in relation to the space it is in, it could be that Tanaka is suggesting that the body and space demarcation is broken down. A poetic interpretation of the microscopic and marcoscopic interrelationships that exist on a multiplicity of levels.

“Bordeaux-5” (1980). Courtesy of: Keiichi Tahara & Art-it-Asia

Bordeaux-11 (1980) depicts a man in an industrial setting, nude. There is a level of vulnerability that can be felt, from viewing this subject in a space substantially larger yet entrapping of his body. He is a detail among the construct in which he exists. The figure seems to be aware of this position. He and his reflection in the water meet eye to eye. His solemn stance permits a read of powerlessness to change what is, but through acceptance of reality, a new form of power has been presented to him.

Exhibition at Hara Museum of Contemporary Art (2017). Courtesy of: Maction Planet

 

This exhibition remains on view until December 24, 2017. An exhibition catalog is scheduled from SUPER LABO. The Hara Museum of Contemporary Art is located in Tokyo’s Shinagawa precinct. For more information on ticketing, hours of operation, and directions, please visit: https://www.haramuseum.or.jp


Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.


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