Shyadai Gallery
Closes March 31

Photographer Takuya Tsukahara has had a fascination with the culture of Poland since 1927, and he was there working on the “Black Madonna” project when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. Later, in 1996, a local artist took Tsukahara to Silesia, an industrial region in Central Europe that was once divided between Germany and Poland. This series of photographs explores the diverse architectural styles of Silesia, a result of the many political influences the region has been under since World War I.

In the 1930s many brick factory buildings were built under German influence. Fascism also had an effect on office buildings, while factories made of steel were built by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II. After most of Silesia was assigned back to Poland by the Allied powers, the flow of funds for industrial production in the region also came to a halt.

When Tsukahara visited in 1996, he found what was going on in Silesia so overwhelming he decided to make the region the first of what he hopes will become a series of “historical story-telling” collections of photographs.

“Those crumbled walls of the factories and buildings — they are not due to bombings. The former workers of those buildings pulled them apart themselves,” he says of what he saw on his first trip to Silesia. “There were naked women picking up bricks, groups of men pulling down steel towers with tractors. Heck with photography; I was so shocked I didn’t dare take any snaps.”

He went back to the site in 2000 and shot what remained, the images of which can now be seen at the Shyadai Gallery in Tokyo. In Silesia, though, most of the structures have disappeared completely or have been renovated into historical heritage sites.

Through the contradictions and ironies that Silesia has experienced — the factories that provided a living for people by producing weapons, their final destruction by their own workers, and the meaning of historical heritage — Tsukahara hopes observers will think about the meanings of “War and Peace,” his chosen theme of this particular story.

The Shyadai Gallery is at Tokyo Polytechnic University Nakano Campus; open 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; free admission. For more information, call (03) 3372-1321 (Japanese language only).

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