Yumiko Chiba Associates, Tokyo
Onodera’s practice and philosophy as a photographer have been devoted to a highly original form of exploration that could be described as an ontology of photography or of the camera, in which she consistently challenges the status of photographs as imitations of the world; copies, recording devices. Reflecting on Onodera’s oeuvre, it is evident that in everything from the camera mechanism to the printing, to the act of taking photographs, there is an emphasis on some kind of formative action or effect. In this sense one could say Onodera has distanced herself from the idea of photography as recording device, and reinterpreted both photo and camera as formative things. As if to swim against the tide of a history holding that the emergence during the age of Impressionism of the camera as a device to faithfully document reality is what propelled new formative developments in painting, Onodera attempts to expand the latent formative possibilities in the technology of camera and photography.
This exhibition of new work by Onodera comprises photographs manipulated in some manner via actions such as collage, painting, photograms and dripping. The gelatin silver prints too are all Onodera’s own work. Onodera has given this new series the title Darkside of the Moon: a place that we know definitely exists, yet which is not visible from where we are.
Don’t miss this opportunity to experience the latest from an artist who in her explorations of the medium of photography, consistently traverses the terrain between cognition and perception.
The exhibition TO Where at Yumiko Chiba Associates has been designed to shed light on where my practice is at a quarter-century after Portrait of Second-hand Clothes, being revived concurrently in FROM Where at THE GINZA SPACE. In the concentrated space of YCA, visitors will be able to trace, in a stripped-down, distilled version, the subsequent flowering of my practice in its evolution and specialization. These works are perhaps best described as intensified fragments of a range of different series, but conversely, the show being so bijou in scale will likely give visitors a better overview of the creative flow involved. Dominated by a new project currently in progress, and including the debut of another in the Muybridge’s Twist series of large-scale works, plus a scattering of works of diverse subject and theme, TO Where will hopefully serve up a rich, concentrated curation of treats.
In the quarter-century since 1995’s Portrait of Second-hand Clothes, my work has evolved organically in myriad ways. During that time, the environment surrounding photography has also changed a great deal. Just how long can we go on using the word “photograph”? This is where we find ourselves at present. My interrogations have always been primarily about the existence of “photography” itself, and our very understanding of it. Asking myself questions such as, what can we do with photographs, and what has been attempted with photographs so far, I have experimented repeatedly with giving photographs greater materiality, belying their status as two-dimensional images. These series of works, each group having a very different subject and theme, may at first glance appear to come out of the blue, but from where I’m standing, each has a strong connection to the others.
The show at YCA will be dominated by works in collage, which I predict is about to become a major turning point in my practice, and includes three series notable for their experimental nature, on the theme of photography itself, plus the new work Darkside of the Moon.
All have been created by me using gelatin silver prints, collage, painting, photograms, and dripping. None of which is especially unusual in terms of manual technique, of course. What I would like viewers to note though, is that all the works here are made using slightly odd, unconventional methods of my own devising. The other thing I was particular about with these works was making them single, one-off prints. Obviously the photographic quality of photographs lies in duplication, but here I have gone out of my way to break this down via the production method.
As to the new work, Darkside of the Moon, no matter how much text I write for it, it defies explanation. I’d prefer the viewer to read the work itself as a text. My works have often been referred to as “anti-photographic acts,” and this new work will doubtless be the most “anti” so far. It too is a one-off, rendered as collage on canvas. A set of three, those three photographs having no end. The relationship between the different images goes in a cycle, forming an endlessly repeating circle. The physical act of dripping, which seems to deny the existence of the image as an entity, makes the bonds between the images solid. Perhaps Darkside of the Moon will have some eye-opening effect, in which thanks to a conflicting “severing and dissolving” among the collaged photos, and its recurrence, we are shown a flip side of sight and cognizance totally invisible to us ordinarily; indeed akin to seeing the “dark side of the moon” invisible to our eyes; something we know of, yet cannot see. (Yuki Onodera Paris. July 2, 2020)