Tokyo – Urban Agitation

Featuring Satoshi Kawai & Fuminori Nakamura
Curated by Taku Nishimae

Opening Reception: Saturday, July 8 from 4-6pm
Exhibition Dates: July 8 – August 5, 2006
Gallery Hours: Monday – Saturday, 12-5:30pm
Location: 120 Essex Street (inside Essex Street Market)

Picking up on the theme of new creation explored by a variety of recent shows on current Japanese art, this exhibit focuses on two contemporary photographers and how they are influenced by the urban scene around them. Each has a unique perspective, yet together they reveal confluences of exploration and concern. In a kind of strange amalgamation of the ultra modern and the personal or even primal, they explore the vibe of Tokyo now.

Satoshi Kawai is an Osaka-born photojournalist who has been working in various war zones, refugees camps and disaster areas around the world for more than 20 years. Since mid 90s, he started to capture a different kind of human drama – empty spaces in the dense architectural environment in and around Tokyo, and the concomitant metaphor of emptiness in personal urban existence. Kawai’s nighttime urban architecture-scapes recall the photographing of miniatures in old fashioned Japanese disaster movies, yet this impression is trumped by a sense of verte immediacy radiating off the images. We feel a strong sense of the personal and of the moment.

Fuminori Nakamura is a Tokyo-born artist known for his chic installation art working with toys and architectural materials. Two new photo series deal with our unconscious recognition of objects in the urban scene. Nakamura’s work operates closer in, at street level. One series is zoomed in on mathematical detail. By choosing the abstract plan of searching for sets of five, no matter the object or material, he captures a visceral sense of the intimate and the personal. Another deals with corporate images, known for their appropriation and repurposing of evolving social content in order to help corporations generate profit. In his series working with branding, Nakamura reappropriates, using corporate logo as both contrast to, and augmentation of, moments in his own personal life.

The contemporary art scene and life in Tokyo itself bring different challenges, in new levels of both complexity and dissolution. These two artists – Kawai and Nakamura, wade into this agitated environment to record both the macro and the micro, both the scale of the city itself and the moment-to-moment impression of life and art within its confines. The result is a stunning set of images documenting both what is present in the contemporary urban environment, and also all that lies absent.


Cuchifritos is a program of Artists Alliance Inc. This exhibit is sponsored in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and through the generous support of the following: The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The New York City Economic Development Corporation, The Puffin Foundation, the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation, The Greenwall Foundation, and the members of the Artists Alliance Inc.