Shades of Cities

PhotographerFumio Tanai
PrizePress / Other_PJ
Entry Description

My work has been criticized as being something which is both certain and uncertain. During my time photographing Chinese cities I often wondered whether my combined feelings of both relief and excitement were down to my being Asian or not. Moreover, the question arose: am l only able to have these feelings in Asia itself? To answer this, I left for Europe; moving from country to country, spending my time hanging around towns in Italy, France, Spain, Portugal and Britain, taking photographs with no fixed intention in mind. For me, photographs have the potential to capture that which is ordinarily hidden in concrete objects. "Shade" is one of those things that photography is able to bring out into the open. The concept of shade in question is not the straightforward physical phenomenon of objects obstructing light rays. No, shade here is understood to be something akin to a hidden presence which exists inside humans, objects and inside the obscured rooms in the traditional Japanese house in which I spent my childhood. In the late afternoon, the shade disappeared when the room was flooded with evening sunlight; it could be said to be an impalpable "Metier". Strangely, however, I found that the light in Europe had a different quality or essence to that I experienced in Japan that I can only characterise as being constructively contradictory. Yet despite this difference, shade does have a strong presence and meaning. I was also struck by the difference in the passage of time in Europe which seems more leisurely as compared with Japan. This lack of urgency is also evident in the to-ing and fro-ing of people. Thus the nexus of person, object and place as seen through a prism of taking one's time within a defined space might also be considered as "Shade" in my idiosyncratic conception of that notion.

About Photographer

Born in Tokyo, received a degree in photography from Tokyo Polytechnic University, studied under the photographer Eikoh Hosoe. This and his encounters with another photographer, Daido Moriyama, were decisive influences on his approach to creative expression. Working as an assistant photographer after graduation on projects involving some of Japan's leading Kabuki and movie actors and novelists provided an opportunity to expand his knowledge of the Japanese people and culture. His subsequent work as a freelance photographer has earned him worldwide recognition, resulting in numerous exhibitions at galleries in Paris, New York and Tokyo, including joint exhibitions with photographers such as Robert Frank and Daido Moriyama. He has traveled extensively, conducting international projects in countries such as China, England, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Thailand, Malaysia and Japan for exhibitions in France and Japan. He has received an Art Fellowship from the Japanese Government, lived in China in 1996-97 and in London in 2005-06. He has made New York the center of his activities since 2007. Public Collections Bibliotheque Nationale de Paris Hungary Japan Museum