Jury Review / Jury Committee 2017/ Past Award Winners

Commentary on the Selection of the 33rd Higashikawa Photography Awards

The judging committee for the 33rd Town of Photography Higashikawa Awards sat on February 21, 2017. This year saw 48 nominations for the Domestic Photographer Award, 62 for the New Photographer Award, 22 for the Special Photographer Award, 26 for the Hidano Kazuuemon Award and 21 for the Overseas Photographer Award. In order to involve more people in making recommendations for the awards, we have been gradually expanding the list of nominators, from 106 two years ago to 161 last year and 179 for this year. As is customary every year, the 8 judges came together in the morning to carefully view the enormous quantity of photographs, portfolios, etc., then in the afternoon, we began the judging.

  The Domestic Photographer Award went to MOTOHASHI Seiichi. His work stands out for his depictions of the people in the street and the great detail he presents through his work, from “Arika” [Sense of Place], which consists of carefully selected works from 9 previous series of work—starting with early works, ‘Ofuyu’ and ‘Yoron’, which had never been exhibited, then moving on to his most famous series, ‘Tankō (Yama)’ [The Coal Mine], ‘Ueno Eki’ [Ueno Station], ‘Toba’ [Slaughterhouse], ‘Geinō Tōzai’ [Performance East and West], ‘Circus’, ‘Chernobyl’, and finishing with his latest series ‘Arayashiki’—to ‘Tsukiji uogashi hito to machi’ [Tsukiji Fish Market – A People’s Town] and ‘Ueno eki no makuai soshite seikan renrakusen’ [An Intermission at Ueno Station and Seikan Ferry] series. As time passes, the significance of black-and-white photography grows and this makes his work all the more appropriate, as one of the conditions for this award is that ‘from the viewpoint of photographic history and photographic expression, the works should remain meaningful in the future.’

  There were six contenders for the New Photographer Award—ISHIKAWA Ryūichi, KATAYAMA Mari, KIKUCHI Tomoko, NOMURA Sakiko, HAYASHI Noriko and YOSHINO Erika, but finally it was presented to NOMURA Sakiko. Using the images from her previous series, “Kuroyami” [Black Darkness] and others, she produced an experimental work, “Mō hitotsu no kurayami” [Another Black Darkness] in which she employed solarization in her work for the first time, printing the results using black ink on black paper to produce a photobook. Her ‘Gun’ series is a result of her spending 3 days living with 6 male models. Ms. Nomura has received attention for her unique expressions of the physical body, resulting in her also being nominated for the Domestic Photographer Award, but due to the experimental and sensational nature of her work it was decided that the New Photographer Award was more appropriate.

  The Special Photographer Award went to OKADA Atsushi, who was born in Wakkanai City and brought up in Sapporo City, both of which are in Hokkaido. Using photographs he had taken while he was a university student of friends, horses and views of the outskirts of Sapporo etc., he compiled a photobook entitled “1999”, employing the latest digital technology and a contemporary sensibility. From 2011 he photographed feral horses and scenery on the deserted island of Yururitō in Nemuro (Hokkaido) to produce the series ‘Horses on Yururi Island’. This work goes beyond the documentary to shine a light on the state of nature there, an element that is also present in his other series. The fact that his work features his home prefecture of Hokkaido, serves to enrichen the world created within them.

  The Hidano Kazuuemon Award, which is aimed at ‘people who continue to photograph local people, nature or culture over a long period of time and who are recognized as contributing to the area’, was presented to KOSEKI Yoshiro. Born in what was Sakae village (now Sōsa City) in Chiba Prefecture, he worked as an apprentice in a bicycle shop for 6 years before opening a camera shop in 1967, thereafter combining his work in the store with photography. He photographed the endless sand dunes and harsh working conditions of the ‘oppeshi’ fisherwomen and ‘funagata’ fishermen, to produce “Kujūkurihama” and numerous other documentary photobooks, including: “Narita Kokusai Kūkō” [Narita International Airport], “Kokutetsu—Jōkikikanku no kiroku” [National Railways—A Record of the Steam Lines], “Kujira kaitai” [Whale Processing], etc., and continues to create works that could only be achieved by a local photographer.

  The Overseas Photographer Award went to Anna Orłowska from the target country of Poland. Having experienced a major political upheaval and possessing a long cinematic tradition, the works from Poland are extremely varied, exhibiting great depth and scope and the final choice was made based on a survey by one of the judges, KUSUMOTO Aki. Orłowska is representative of the young photographers there, her photographs stir the viewers’ imaginations, winning her international acclaim. Recently she has developed the theme of things that cannot be seen in which she questions the visibility of photographs.

  The selection this year was not settled simply by unanimous or majority vote, instead, the judges sat at a round table, discussing the merits of each work and the provisions of the awards, exchanging a variety of views and holding deliberations until a winner was arrived at for each award. Even though there may be differences of opinion between the judging committee’s members, it is customary to discuss the matter until an agreement can be reached. This year, saw the replacement of 3 members of the committee who retired last year but despite the new blood, the traditional style of judging was retained. As a result, the judging committee was proud to have been able to select outstanding artists befitting the ‘capital of photographic culture’.

 In this way, it can be said that one of the characteristics of the Higashikawa town is that, despite changes may occur over time, it remains true to its traditions. More than 30 years have passed since Higashikawa declared itself to be a ‘Town of Photography’ in 1985 and it is through the continual endeavors of the local community, one step at a time, with the support of large numbers of people throughout the world who share our objectives, that it has become what it is today. Higashikawa town is proud of its wonderful environment with ‘delicious water’, ‘clean air’ and ‘fertile land’, but it had a vision of becoming ‘a small town where people can come into contact with photographs from around the world, a town where people from around the world can mix, a town that would overflow with smiles from around the world,’ and it possesses the charm to be able to realize this dream. We hope that the marvelous artists who won this year’s awards will join with the people of Higashikawa town to take the next step forward.

Osamu Ueno
member of the Higashikawa Photography Awards Jury

The 33rd Higashikawa Award Winners

Overseas Photographer Award
Anna Orłowska
Domestic Photographer Award
MOTOHASHI Seiichi
New Photographer Award
NOMURA Sakiko
Special Photographer Award
OKADA Atsushi
Hidano Kazuuemon Award
KOSEKI Yoshiro

The Jury Committee of the 33rd Higashikawa Awards

  • ASABA Katsumi <Art Designer>
  • UENO Osamu <Photo Critic>
  • KITANO Ken <Photographer>
  • KUSUMOTO Aki <Photo Critic, Curator>
  • NAKAMURA Ikuo <Photographer>
  • NIWA Harumi <Curator, Photo Critic>
  • HIRANO Keiichiro <Novelist>
  • MITSUDA Yuri <Art Critic>


Past Jury Reviews

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