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Yuki Tawada: “Missing Folklore”

by Jeff Hammond and Jeff Michael Hammond

For some photographers, the decisive moment for a photograph is the second the shutter is pressed. For others, the darkroom offers a host of possibilities: tonal variations, framing, paper quality, even superimposition. For Japanese photographer Yuki Tawada, the artwork is not considered finished even when the printing process has been completed, as the paper and the image itself can still be manipulated for new visual and emotional effects.

This is the approach Tawada employs in her new exhibition, “Missing Folklore,” at the Taro Nasu gallery in Tokyo’s Higashi-Kanda area (www.taronasugallery.com). Her 20 photographs of cities and the people who live or work in them, each 100×150 cm in size, have been scraped, scratched and blurred with needles, erasers and sandpaper. The transformed surface of each print allows a new energy and a new image to emerge in an attempt to capture a sense of the aura of the subject or the feeling of Tawada herself toward her source material.

The starting point of “Electric Syndrome 2009″ is a photo of what seems to be a dark cityscape. Tawada’s manipulations create a ghostly web of white lines across the skyline, though, suggesting an electrical storm over the city or the power of millions of mobile phones and televisions magically made visible.

Through her treatment of the concrete images in her photos, Tawada’s works approach abstraction and suggest new possibilities for photography, taking it into a realm closer to painting or perhaps even sculpture.