The Higashikawa Awards 受賞者

The Overseas Photographer Award

Lives in St. Petersburg, Russia

The Domestic Photographer Award

Lives in Tokyo

The New Photographer Award

Lives in Okinawa

The Special Photographer Award

Lives in Tokyo

The Hidano Kazuemon Award

Lives in Kanagawa

The Jury Committee of the 36th Higashikawa Awards

Anju <Photographer>
UENO Osamu <Photo Critic>
KITANO Ken <Photographer>
KURAISHI Shino <Photo Critic, Poet>
SHIBASAKI Tomoka <Novelist>
NIWA Harumi <Curator, Photo Critic>
HARA Koichi <Art Designer>
MITSUDA Yuri <Art Critic>

Commentary on the Selection of the 36th Higashikawa Photography Awards

Judging of the 36th Higashikawa Photography Awards was held on February 13th, 2020. The nominees this year included 57 for the Domestic Photographer Award, 66 for the New Photographer Award, 28 for the Special Photographer Award, 28 for the Hidano Kazuuemon Award, and 26 for the Overseas Photographer Award. As with other years, the morning was spent viewing and discussing photo books and resources while the afternoon saw judging of 181 artists for five awards. Although one juror was absent this year, we took her recommendations submitted in advance into account, thereby judging was actually carried out by a total of eight jurors.

Similar to last year, final voting for the Domestic Photographer Award was evenly split. After repeated discussion and voting, NAGASHIMA Yurie was chosen from the deadlock. This is for her unequalled original pursuit of expression and creativity in the radical questioning of traditional relationships between society, expression, and family in her three large-scale exhibitions held from 2017 to 2019: And a Pinch of Irony with a Hint of Love at the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum, To Create, To Bring Up.. as a Mother, as an Artistat Chihiro Art Museum Tokyo, and The Flower Named in an Unknown Word / The Landscape Not in My Memory / The Book that Can Not Be Read by My Fingers at Yokohama Civic Art Gallery Azamino. In the end, there was agreement to award her the Domestic Photographer Award as “during the last three years, her work has shown meaning within in the history of photography and photographic expression, as well as the future.”, which appropriately meets the requirement of the award.

Regarding the New Photographer Award, which sees hotly-contested battles each year, UEHARA Sayaka and YAMAMOTO Ayaka stood at the final judging stage with Uehara coming out winner by a narrow margin. Her work, while at first orthodox-looking, is full of respect for Okinawa photography up to now while updates it, and her snapshots of daily landscapes has received high recognition. Her exhibition, The Others, the subject of the award, was held in conjunction with the photography project Okinawa Photography Typhoon: From North From South, just like the silent eye of a typhoon moving from the south to the north.

TAKAHASHI Kentaro was selected for the Special Photographer Award for his work documenting the daily lives of MATSUMOTO Goro and HISHIYA Ryoichi, who were imprisoned in 1941 during the “Life Drawing Incident” whereby teachers and students were oppressed at the Asahikawa Teacher’s Training College Art Club in Asahikawa. Those seized books and painting cannot be brought back, and the only things remaining are some photos of paintings captured in the black and white negative film. By assembling the past and the present through photography, his exhibition, A Red Hat gives evidence that the incident has not ended.

For the Hidano Kazuuemon Award, KIKAI Hiroh was selected for this continued photography of Tokyo residents and scenery over several decades. His portraits of Tokyoites with the same background of Senso-ji temple, and the cityscapes showing the daily life of residents, which were photographed through his extensive walks in Tokyo, reflect the sentiment of one city. This work is no doubt fitting for an award that recognizes continuing work on regional people, nature, and culture.   

For the Overseas Photographer Award, after considering explanations based on the careful research of KUSUMOTO Aki, the Russian photographer Gregori MAIOFIS was chosen for such works as Proverbs, which satirically expresses the social and political conditions of modern society. Up to his latest series, “Mixed Reality, which focuses on people who can only see the world through headsets, his work is consistently full of irony and wit, somewhere in between fiction and reality.

Sitting around a round table and making decisions over discussion on the works and the nature of the awards is a typical scene of the Jury Committee of the Higashikawa Awards each year. Of course, there are differences in opinion which are not always resolved. However, being sensitive to the changing times and spirit, and where having no direction is a direction, is characteristic of the Higashikawa Awards and perhaps the path the Jury Committee should follow. From the “Declaration of Town of Photography” of 1985 to the proclamation of “culture capital of photography” of 2014, the Higashikawa Awards continues to change, led forward by the great effort of the progressive people of Higashikawa.

Osamu Ueno
Higashikawa Photography Award Jury Committee