Past Exhibition


The Shiseido Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of a show by photographer Go Watanabe featuring his new series Transplant, which highlights those among his photographic series showing places transformed by human engagement. In the Border and Sight series, for example, Watanabe depicted places around the world that have been divided by national borders and other artificial separations. His other recent exhibitions in Japan include major photography shows such as Kiss in the Dark: Contemporary Japanese Photography (Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, 2003) and Traveling: Towards the Border (Tokyo National Museum of Modern Art, 2003). Watanabe is considered one of Japan's most notable contemporary photographers.

Watanabe's Transplant series embraces the two views of "plantation" and "town". The "plantation" portions show scenes of the plantation farms created by the European colonization of tropical islands in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Images of plantations, replete with lush bananas and palms rendered in larger-than-life scale, spread across the gallery walls to engender a serenity reminiscent of birdsongs and breezes; but underlying these peaceful visions is also the reality that such plants were transported by human forces over long distances and have also had to survive the rigors of natural selection and adaptation. At the same time, these plant images also connote the existence of people forced to alter their very values and ways of life under the policies of colonial rule.

The "town" portions of Transplant show scenes of immigrant communities and cities that still display the strong influence of past rulers: a Japanese-immigrant community in Brazil that is home to both a torii gate (the quintessential symbol of Japanese Shintoism) and a European-style Catholic church, for example, or a scene from Calcutta, India, where old English-style buildings have been transformed by Indian cultural purposes. Such images show both the process and results emerging from an important and fundamental human reaction to encounters with powerful new cultures—namely, the struggle to co-exist with the new power without losing inherent identity. Watanabe's exhibition also features layered-glass plates engraved with the names of nations over each of his images, an experimental device used to highlight further the gap between the realities of actual places and the concept of nations.

As the title suggests, Watanabe's photographic series focus on things that have been "transplanted" from one environment to another. Although a foreigner arriving in a new place may at first be rejected, such tension inevitably begins to thaw, gradually, until finally the newcomer comes to be accepted as if it had always been part of local landscape. Watanabe's depictions of plantation farms and the towns around them are a condensed embodiment of this fundamental human attitude. In this sense, they provide viewers with opportunities to reconsider and rediscover their own environments and surroundings; to reevaluate their own ideas of nations and ethnicity; and by extension to reconsider how such forces might likely play out in our future.

Go Watanabe

1954 Born in Tokyo
1974 Graduated from Tokyo Photographic College

Solo Exhibitions

1996 Frame House, AKIYAMA GALLERY, Tokyo
1998 Border and Sight, Gallery YAMAGUCHI, Tokyo
2000 Border and Sight, YOKOHAMA PORT SIDE GALLERY, Kanagawa
Border and Sight, Gallery YAMAGUCHI, Tokyo
2002 Japan 5-O., GALLERY GAN, Tokyo

Group Exhibitions

2001 Oh, Europe! Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Kiss in the Dark: Contemporary Japanese Photography, Tokyo
Metropolitan Museum of Photography and Marugame
Genichiro-Inokuma Museum of Contemporary Art, Kagawa
2002 eleven & eleven Korea Japan Contemporary Art 2002, Sungkok Art Museum, Seoul, Korea
2003 Traveling: Towards the Border, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
Public Collections
Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Tokyo, Japan
Joy of Giving Something, Inc., New York, U.S.A.

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