Tokyo Photo 2013 heads for Zojoji Temple

by Jeff Hammond and Jeff Michael Hammond

Special To The Japan Times

Japan’s first international photography fair, Tokyo Photo, strengthens its hold on the photography scene in Asia with its fifth yearly installment from Sept. 27 to 30 at a new location at the Zojoji Temple in the downtown area of the city.

The move to the storied temple for Tokyo Photo 2013, making the event a more unusual and memorable cultural experience, is hoped to appeal to a wider audience. The now-customary wide range of high-profile exhibiting galleries and agencies, this year numbering around 30, come from the long-established key cultural centers of New York, Paris, Los Angeles, Tokyo and Berlin as well as relatively new photography hotspots such as Beijing and Amsterdam.

In addition to each participating gallery or agency representing their own photographers, this year the fair is holding a number of thematically-structured exhibitions. These include an exhibition of photos of 100 children from Japan and China, and a display of the work of last year’s Hasselblad Masters Award winners. Hasselblad, the famed Swedish camera company, last year strengthened its links with Tokyo through its opening of a subsidiary and gallery in Harajuku.

A special exhibition commemorates the lifework of the Japanese photographer Shomei Tomatsu, who died last year age 80. One of a small group of artists who firmly established a socially-minded photography scene in postwar Japan, Shomei was a major influence on a subsequent generation of photographers. One of which, Daido Moriyama, is represented at Tokyo Photo 2013 in “Pictures from Moving Cars,” an exhibition of his work alongside that of two other photographers — John Divola and Joel Meyerowitz.

Of particular interest in this display is Divola’s blurry photograph of a dog chasing a car through a desert. The movement here is double-layered — the speed of the car and the pace of the dog both adding to the impact of the image. One of Moriyama’s contributions shows a young woman, clutching what looks like a small bag of shopping, as she walks by a plain concrete wall — mundane in the extreme, but an intriguing snapshot of 1969 Japan.

American photographer William Klein, an acquaintance of Moriyama (the two photographers were the subject of a joint exhibition at the Tate Modern in London last year) is also being represented in an exhibition that revisits his images of Tokyo that were taken in 1964, the year the city last hosted the Olympics.

Even with such a focus on key photographic moments of the past, Tokyo Photo 2013 does not neglect today’s trends, representing artists such as New York-born, South Africa-based Roger Ballen, whose striking black-and-white images have recently caught the public’s attention, and German-born, New York-based Martin Schoeller, known for his hyper-detailed close up portraits.

Tokyo Photo 2013 at Zojoji Temple, 4-7-35 Shibakoen Minato-ku, Tokyo, runs from Sept. 27 to 30. ¥1,300. Tickets are available at Daikanyama T-Site (tsite.jp), Tsutaya Tokyo Roppongi (store.tsutaya.co.jp/storelocator/detail/2000.html) and NADiff stores (www.nadiff.com). For more information, visit: www.tokyophoto.org.