Photographer Rinko Kawauchi (1972–), known for her expressive mastery of gentle color suffused with light, has revealed the mystery, radiance, frailty, and strength of life in all its forms since her earliest works. Her gaze falls equally on the fragile and delicate beings in her immediate vicinity, be they flora and fauna or family members, and the vast workings of the earth, such as volcanoes and glaciers formed over long eons. The unique sensibility underlying her photography reveals the connections between these subjects, which all shimmer with the same vital glow. This will be her first major exhibition in Japan in six years, showcasing the essence of Kawauchi’s oeuvre through work from the past decade combined with never-before-seen images from her archives.
M/E, the main subject of this exhibition and inspiration for its title, is a new series Kawauchi began shooting in 2019. The letters stand for “Mother” and “Earth,” combining to form both “Mother Earth” and “Me.” At a glance, the series’ images of Iceland’s volcanoes and ice floes and Hokkaido’s snowy landscapes may seem distant and unrelated to the everyday scenes from the COVID-19 pandemic they are placed alongside. However, both types of image depict events now taking place on the planet we live on, and Kawauchi’s artistry alerts us to the connection between them. M/E invites the viewer to reconsider a range of questions about the workings of human life and our relationship with nature.