With essays by Masatake Shinohara, Hana Takigami (Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery), Yasuhiro Arai (Shiga Museum of Art）
Asahi Shimbun, 2022
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.
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 that accompany them in the series. 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. This exhibition invites the viewer to reconsider a range of questions about the workings of human life and our relationship with nature.
In this exhibition catalog, Kawauchi herself has composed a sequence that allows visitors to relive the three-dimensional exhibition space, from the core series of the exhibition such as the new “M/E,” the yet unpublished “4%,” and “An interlinking” with new images, to her latest video work. The exhibition also includes a conversation with Haruo Saji, who was an influence on Kawauchi’s practice, and three essays, of which one is written by Masatake Shinohara, exploring the current state of Kawauchi’s work through both imagery and text. By changing the format and paper for each series, despite its simple binding, the book becomes a multilayered volume that embodies the depth of the exhibition.