Jury Review / Jury Committee 2016/ Past Award Winners

Commentary on the Selection of the 32nd Higashikawa Photography Awards

The judging of the 32nd Higashikawa Photography Awards took place at the Kuwasawa Design School on February 23, 2016. Having gone over the list of the people who make recommendations for nominees, we found it to be unanticipatedly extensive and had more photographers than usual this year: 54 for the Domestic Photographer Award, 53 for the New Photographer Award, 18 for the Special Photographer Award, 24 for the Hidano Kazuuemon Award, and 12 for the overseas Photographer Award. The jurors gathered at 10:00 AM and carefully looked through the huge amount of works by the nominated artists. The deliberation lasted from 1:30 to 5:00 p.m. with a lunch break in between.

  The Domestic Photographer Award was given to Taishi Hirokawa. Opinions were divided between Yoshihiko Ueda and Taishi Hirokawa, both of whom have had impressive careers as photographers. The jury found the omnibus of Ueda’s work up until now impressive but was won over by the way in which Hirokawa has cultivated a more expansive platform for himself as a photographer with his photography book “BABEL - ORDINARY LANDSCAPES -”. He included photographs of mines, dams, hillside land plots for houses, and power plants ― unromanticized views of commonly seen instances of nature mutated by human intervention.

  Opinion is divided over the New Photographer Award every year and this year was no different. This proves that there are many qualified candidates to choose from since it is applied to the work of young to mid-career photographers. After a number of votes and discussions, Yoko Ikeda, Eriko Koga, Sohei Nishino, Takahiro Masuda, Tamotsu Kido, Tamaki Shindo, and Kazuna Taguchi, all of whom have completely different styles, remained. The vote went to Yoko Ikeda as the recipient of the New Photographer Award by a small margin. She has enjoyed a high reputation as an artist in recent years. The photography book “Monkey Puzzle” captures pedestrian shots of Hokkaido, Nagano, Tochigi, Tokyo, Aichi, Kyoto, and Kumamoto in Japan as well as places in America, Belgium and the Netherlands. It is a compleat collection of her works, marked by her distinctive humor, color, and composition.

  The Special Photographer Award, which is given to a photographer associated with Hokkaido was given to Michael Kenna. He is an internationally acclaimed photographer renowned for works whose poeticism is thought to be reminiscent of ink painting. It may be that the jury overlooked him as a candidate for this award because he is already advanced in his career. An Englishman living in America, Michael Kenna vigorously takes photos of sceneries both in and out of country. He feels a deep connection to Hokkaido. Related photos are included in the collection simply titled “Hokkaido”, with the famous oak tree by Lake Kussharo, affectionately known as the Kenna tree, an outstanding example. The book “Forms of Japan” comprises choice photos of Japan from Hokkaido to Okinawa, the fruits of a thirty year effort. These two collections present works complementary to the nature of Japan in ways even its residents never imagined.

  The Hidano Kazuuemon Award, presented to a photographer who has made a special contribution to a particular region, was given to Yoshimi Ikemoto. He has taken many photos of things in and around Tottori, which is the center of the Sanin region. Over the course of his thirty year labor, he has visited old-fashioned, individually run shops such as shoe shops, plant nurseries, mills, barber shops, and traditional artisan shops, all of which have made it into “Kinsei miseya ko” series. In these photographs of a world trapped in the Showa era, time stands still; each shop owner has a unique character and a story to tell. In the ever-presence of mass market uniformity, these photos are a precious reminder of more personal individual human experiences and places.

  This year, the Overseas Photographer Award was presented to a photographer from Colombia. Colombia has suffered a long period of anxiety brought on by civil war and drug cartel activities. However, since 2002, President Uribe worked to restore safety to the country. As of 2007, an international photo festival, FOTOGRÁFICA BOGOTÁ, is held biannually. With the cooperation of the locals, juror Aki Kusumoto conducted a search for talented photographers, of whom 12 were nominated. Ranging from the up-and-coming to veterans of their crafts, all the nominees represent contemporary Colombia in their works. Among these, Oscar Muñoz received the majority vote. Held in several museums including the Jeu de Paume in Paris, the exhibition “Protographs” presents a dynamic installation of themes of memories and disappearance [death] utilizing imagery of smoke and water.

  This is the 32nd year of the Higashikawa Photography Awards. We in the jury are confident that we have chosen a group of excellent photographic artists worthy of recognition in this festival sponsored by the “Culture Capital of Photography.” This festival did not come about overnight, and it is owed to more than the ability and knowledge of the jury. It depends upon the support of many people around the world who sympathize with the purposes of the Higashikawa International Photo Festival and the accumulated efforts of the people of Higashikawa in the 32 years since the “Photography Town Manifesto” was announced in 1985. The manifesto of the “Culture Capital of Photography” stated that the purpose of the festival was to “encounter the photography of the world in this small town, make contact with people from all over the world, and produce happy smiles around the world.” As a result, Higashikawa will “take a role in creating connections between photographic culture and the people of the world.” In this 32nd year, we hope to step out in a new direction with the people of Higashikawa and the wonderful artists who have received awards.

Michiko Kasahara
member of the Higashikawa Photography Awards Jury

The 32nd Higashikawa Award Winners

Overseas Photographer Award
Oscar Muñoz
Domestic Photographer Award
Taishi Hirokawa
New Photographer Award
Yoko Ikeda
Special Photographer Award
Michael Kenna
Hidano Kazuuemon Award
Yoshimi Ikemoto

The Jury Committee of the 32nd Higashikawa Awards

  • Katsumi ASABA <Art Designer>
  • Osamu UENO <Photo Critic>
  • Michiko KASAHARA <Photo Critic>
  • Aki KUSUMOTO <Critic, Curator>
  • Kazuyoshi NOMACHI <Photographer>
  • Keiichiro HIRANO <Novelist>
  • Yuri MITSUDA <Art Critic>
  • Hiroshi YAMAZAKI <Photographer>

Past Jury Reviews

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