Photographers of Japan
Vol.13 "Narahara Ikko - Double Vision "
Narahara Ikko was born in 1931 in his mother’s hometown of Omuta City, Fukuoka Prefecture. His father’s position as a court judge kept the family moving around the country, leading Narahara to have a boyhood with no stable place to belong. After beginning his activity as a photographer, Narahara traveled the world, staying in parts of Europe and the USA for long periods at a time but continuing to move around and around, perhaps affected by the experiences of his youth.
Narahara held his first solo exhibition, “Human Land” (Matsushima Gallery, Tokyo), in 1965. It put side by side the island of Hashima (also called Gunkanjima), a manmade island off the coast of Nagasaki created to support a coal mine, and Kurokami Village, a small village at the foot of the active Sakurajima volcano, presenting a dichotomy between “man versus society” and “man versus nature”. This debut exhibition had a deep impact, turning a simple graduate student studying art history at Waseda into a notable young photographer by the end of its course.
His 1958 solo exhibition, "Domains" (Tokyo, Fuji Photo Salon), was also a product of notions of dualism. The comparison of a men’s monastery in Hokkaido (Land of Silence) and a women’s prison in Wakayama (Within the Walls) approaches themes of polarization like man/woman, religious/secular, free will/force. The works in these two series approached the question of what is necessary for human life in confined space.
In 1959 Narahara collaborated with Tomatsu Shomei, Hosoe Eiko, Kawada Kikuji, Sato Akira, and Tanno Akira to create the photographer’s group VIVO; together, they created what was one of the brightest seasons in the history of Japanese photographic expression.
After the disbandment of VIVO in 1961, Narahara based himself in Paris and traveled Europe from 1962~1963, then settled in New York from 1970~1974. He published several series in the following years, such as “Where time has stopped - Europe” (Kagoshima Kenkyujo Shuppansha, 1967), “Espana: Grand tarde, Fiesta, Vaya con Dios” (Seiryudo, 1969), “Japanesque” (Mainichi Shimbunsha, 1970), and “Where time has vanished” (Asahi Shimbunsha, 1975); these works showed the development of his “double vision” that saw both the external and internal at the same time, a concept which matured over he spent time between Japan and the West.
Narahara continued his search for “spectacles where outer reality and the realm of the inner domain of the heart meet and become one” throughout and after the ‘80s, creating many diverse photo works. It’s significant that the last work Narahara has presented is called “Double Vision - Paris” (2000~2002). Seeing the photos of Paris that he printed slightly staggered one over the other, it is possible to understand the way he might see the world.
From the seriesDomains:
"Garden of Silence (2)"
1958 (printed 1984)
Gelatin silver print
Image size: 47.8×31.5cm
Sheet size: 50.8×40.6cm
BacknumberVol.13 "Narahara Ikko - Double Vision"
Vol.12 "Q Ei and
Vol.11 "Fukuhara Shinzo 1883-1948 -- Japanese Landscape Photography"
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