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Takahiro Kaneyama, Shumafura

Miyako Yoshinaga Art Prospects
547 West 27th Street, 2nd Floor, 212-268-7132
March 5 - April 11, 2009
Reception: Thursday, March 5, 6 - 8 PM
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M.Y. ART PROSPECTS is pleased to present SHUMAFURA, a solo exhibition by Takahiro Kaneyama.

SHUMAFURA, Kaneyama’s latest series of color photographs, portrays a small fishing town called Shimofuro. Called Shumafura in the Ainu native language, Shimofuro is located on the northern tip of Honshu, Japan’s main island, where the artist visited briefly last summer. At first glance, the paved roads, concrete buildings, and modern infrastructures may obscure the reality that the area is fast becoming a depopulated and graying society. Kaneyama’s great uncle (his beloved grandmother’s younger brother) has worked there all his life as a fisherman. Although the two had never met before, the process of taking photographs became a form of a dialogue that dissolved the distance between them, forging a new relationship.

During his three-day shooting, Kaneyama paid close attention to his great uncle’s household full of paraphernalia, which had accumulated over generations. The great uncle, the male heir of the family, became the keeper of family memorabilia including an old photo album in which Kaneyama found a portrait of his mother at the age of 21. Kaneyama was raised by four women: his mother, grandmother, and two unmarried aunts. After his grandmother died, his mother and aunts began traveling together; Kaneyama coming with them to make evocative portraits of the three austere women posing against scenic backdrops. The images, in which memory plays a strong role, became a series titled While Leaves Are Falling. (A few works from this series will be displayed in the adjunct space.)

In SHUMAFURA, Kaneyama’s main subjects — the three important women — are absent, except in one close-up shot of a page from an old family album. Instead, Kaneyama contemplates the birthplace of his grandmother, where the three sisters had visited as children. The houses, streets, harbors, and children in SHUMAFURA speak of righteous beauty, of the pride of a long enduring history, and of their modest hope for a brighter future through the fishing industry and tourism. These images explore the delicate lines between depression and melancholy, dullness and tranquility, decay and beauty, etc, as if everything had an equal potential to evolve into any of several possibilities.

A self-published photo-book titled SHUMAFURA accompanies this exhibition.

Born in 1971 in Tokyo, Japan, Takahiro Kaneyama first came to the U.S. to study film at the City College of New York. He went on to get an MFA at School of Visual Arts (New York), and then studied documentary photography at the International Center of Photography (New York). The recipient of several photo awards, Kaneyama has exhibited at Fuji Photo Salon (Tokyo), Recruit Guardian Garden (Tokyo), Kiyosato Photo Museum (Kiyosato), and the Japan Society (New York), where he exhibited While Leaves Are Falling series in the group show “Making a Home” in 2007.
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