PARIS, FRANCE.- The Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain presents Rinko Kawauchi - AILA the eyes, the ears cui cui, on view through June 5, 2005. Rinko Kawauchi, one of the most celebrated young photographers in Japan today, presents her first solo exhibition in Europe at the Fondation Cartier pour lart contemporain. For this exceptional event, the artist has chosen to show a large selection of photographs from the AILA series (2004) and exhibit for the first time to the public her two most recent series: cui cui and the eyes, the ears. Rinko Kawauchi captures with her camera the details of everyday life that are all too easily missed by the busy passer-bya faucet dripping water, the crack in a watermelon, a spoon full of tapioca. Seen through the wellattuned eyes of the artist, these ordinary objects and occurrences take on another character; they become charged with beauty, poetry and emotion. Kawauchi assembles her photographs in sequences, creating subtle, open-ended narratives that she publishes in the form of books. Juxtaposing her images in a way that reveals unexpected conflations of forms, moods or atmospheres, she encourages us to engage with the infinite wonders of the world.
Consisting primarily of images of nature, the photographs from AILA (from the Turkish word aile meaning family), published in 2004, celebrate the awe-inspiring essence of life. Kawauchi captures the limitless diversity of naturehives of insects, matrices of fish eggs, dewdrops, waterfalls, rainbowswhile emphasizing the limited time all creatures have on earth. Animals, plants and humans are all depicted at various stages of transition from birth to death. As the title suggests, it is the shared experience of being alive that brings all living creatures closer together and binds our global family. Kawauchi is successful in conveying these layered relationships by utilizing images that both implyand literally depicthumankinds interaction with animals and nature: a hand holding a newborn puppy, a park visitor feeding crows. We are also reminded of the remarkable likeness man shares with other living things. Some groupings point out physical similarities in form, such as an image of an umbilical cord and placenta, paired with a photo of an insect that has sprouted a long winding growth from its body. Others compare man-made, constructed environments with natural ones. One such juxtaposition brings together the image of a glass window with that of a tortoise swimming in the ocean, the light shimmering beautifully through each of these translucent surfaces.
Although AILA is an overwhelmingly life-affirming visual statement, some of the subjects depicted in this series also reveal the cruelty, pain and death inherent in existence. One particularly striking image shows a slaughtered chicken with its head hanging over the chopping block. But whether they represent a moment of birth or of death, the images of Rinko Kawauchi are both beautiful and unsettling. She achieves this effect by combining a highly-refined language of pastel colors and patterned light with a powerfully direct snapshot approach to photographing. Tuned in to the subtlest details of her immediate surroundings, Rinko Kawauchi succeeds in showing us the beauty that can be found in the transience and uncertainty of our daily lives. Rinko Kawauchis series of works, cui cui, continues to explore the theme of the family, but this time on a more intimate level. Presented in the exhibition in the form of a slide show, this body of work consists of images of the artists family and the places she associates with them, taken over a period of ten years. The title of the series comes from the cry of small birds or sparrows, highly sociable creatures who tend to stick together in groups. The soft, sweet song of the sparrow thus becomes a metaphor for the close connection that binds family members together. Focussing on expressive details and melancholy landscapes, these photographs, at times bittersweet and nostalgic, evoke the passing of time and the continuity of life.
Accompanied by a series of poems written by the artist, the photographs from the series the eyes, the ears evoke the exquisite and intriguing sights and sounds captured by the senses: the iridescent forms of nature as seen through a kaleidoscope, the surprising formation of dewdrops on leaves. The images are lyrical, even musical in the sounds they recall: the fluttering of butterfly wings, the splashing of waves, the dripping of water. In this series, the artist finds an echo of her inner voice in the soft murmurs she perceives in the world around her.
Born in the Shiga prefecture in 1972, Rinko Kawauchi discovered photography during her studies at the Seian Junior College of Art and Design. In 2001 she simultaneously released three photography books with Little More publications: Utatane [catnap], Hanabi [fireworks], and Hanako, creating an overnight sensation in the photography world. In 2002, she was awarded the prestigious 27th Annual Kimura Ihei Award for her work in Utatane and Hanabi. In 2004, Martin Parr included her in the Rencontres dArles, an international photography festival. She has also worked with Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda as the photographer of his film Nobody Knows, which won the award for best actor at the 2004 Cannes film festival. AILA (2004) is her most recent publication with Little More. The eyes, the ears will be published by FOIL in January 2005 and cui cui will be released in March 2005. The exhibition Rinko Kawauchi is organized with support from the Fondation Cartier pour lart contemporain, under the aegis of the Fondation de France, and with the sponsorship of Cartier.