past exhibition

父のアルバム/不思議な力 - 野口里佳

Weekdays 11:00 - 20:00

Weekends and Holidays 11:00 - 18:30

Mondays and Tuesdays Closed(Except for Holidays)

Entrance Fee 800 yen for over 18


Towards the profundity of the invisible:
The power of Rika Noguchi’s photographs
Yu Hidaka (photography critic)

A man and woman sitting in a car; the gentle nuances of their resonating features. A generative change similar to the crytallization of snow, that occurs in the process of ice melting in a petri dish.

That which is pushed along hidden from view as time progresses, is too big or too small to see; that which our eyes cannot normally see, but which lies concealed. There can be no doubt that in this universe, such things exist. Rika Noguchi has consistently channeled her gaze directly at that which only becomes visible when captured in photographs, and arranged for us to see. Taking the hidden and making it visible, helping us sense it: Noguchi heads straight to the heart of this essential power of photography.

Noguchi has consistently produced works that attempt to see what people do not look at, what people cannot see; heading off in a search for the myriad shadows, and the richness of those shadows, that in fact lie buried in images rendered symbolic, and consumed, such as images of Mt. Fuji, or the desert, even if it means pointing her camera directly at the sun, made difficult to discern by its fierce light. Rather than viewing the world from the human side, Noguchi views the world from the world’s side, in such a way that human beings become incidental details. In order to see something, she dives under the sea, makes her own homemade paper rocket fly, tries her hand at silk screening. In order to see she rescinds the routine and habitual, even adding a little absurdity to the mix. Noguchi is the most honest of photographers, opening her eyes to what she happens to encounter along the way, and following it as far as it will take her.

This then is Noguchi the photographer, and this exhibition composed by her consists of two new series. The first is a series of photos she personally printed from negatives left by her father, who passed away last year. The other is a series of small experiments, independent studies of a sort, in which she makes the invisible visible, e.g. the colors of light split through a prism, the surface tension on a glass of water. The former is in short, human; the latter showcasing the latent qualities of inorganic substances. These two series were on this occasion presented at Gallery 916. Was it simply a case of two at first glance disparate series being thrown together? An unthinking experiment?

I have no idea how Noguchi feels from the inside about the coherence of these exhibits. But one series was born out of photographs accumulated by her father on a half-size camera called an Olympus Pen, and she, taking the camera left to her, then proceeded to give birth to another series, of small experiments. This subtle yet obvious connection ought not to be overlooked, in my view. Let us be brave enough to be guided by the tenacious softness of this photographer, which allows her to give herself up to the guidance of her own sharp sensibilities. Obviously, the question will arise as to whether the series of photos taken by her father can be called Noguchi's work. The taker of the photos was her father, and the content too is of course extremely personal. Yet as she printed out her father’s negatives and retraced his gaze, there must have been profound, intimate and personal moments as Noguchi’s own gaze was absorbed into his. That feeling of joy, that sensation is owned directly to that person alone, yet after Noguchi’s printing and compilation, is also able to be shared with third parties. And when paired with the experiment series, this series, based on a theme of “seeing the invisible,” opens itself up in a single stroke as a series and as a work. I recognize this series that also bases a family album on the theme of “seeing the invisible”—with the diligence of Noguchi's perceptions—as her own work. The other, experiment photos, are not the first of their kind, but on encountering her father's series their inorganic images acquire substance, and the time axis of memory emerges. Thus her works take on an extra depth.

Love of all things is invisible to the eye, yet, for example, the sight of roses tirelessly captured in countless shots renders visible one man’s love of roses. The yellow petals and leaves of the roses moistened by raindrops, the windowpane beyond. All kinds of details and nuances meet, touch fleetingly, reverberate under our gaze, which seems to touch them, adding extra depth to the image of each rose. The wife, the children of the photo-taker are similarly rendered more profound. Mother in the kitchen, me sitting at the dining table. The gaze of a young girl, strong and true, and the corresponding trust of the father on the receiving end. Brother and sister. Growing deeper, each individual body, the tracks of each line of life are thrown into relief. Neither the profundity of existence nor its tracks are visible to the naked eye. Which is exactly why photographs invite us to experience the joy of tasting the wondrous detail and differences in the roses that can be seen by photograph, and to experience the depth of life. Memories of the roses become deeper with each viewing of the photos of roses, and in addition are combined with other memories and perceptions surrounding roses, constantly generated as something new. When invited by the photo to look, we join this unknown “father” who loved roses and clicked the shutter, and the photographer chasing/recollecting her father’s gaze, to know the joy of that gaze. This delight is neither illusion nor imitation. Simply hard to sense because we cannot see it.

Which is why the series of small experiments also takes on an added degree of depth. The photo of a spoonful of honey ripples with the nuances of drops and fingertips in soft light, and the drops on the roses, awakening long-dormant childhood memories. The photo of a prism obscured by the sun is at once a record of the color spectrum of light, and a crumb of the magic of the assembled memories of a humanity fascinated by light since the earliest times.
The invisible lies hidden everywhere. It can be explored everywhere. Even in a family photo album. There can be no doubt that here, the photographer has renewed her encounter with the source of photography.


artist statement

My Father’s Album / Small Miracles

Last summer, my father has passed away. Because he was a person who often took pictures, after his death many negatives were left behind. I’ve decided to take these and try printing them myself. Among my father's photos were those of my mother who passed away twenty years ago and me, my brother and sister, roses my father grew, and occasional scenic shots. In the darkroom I shone light on the negatives, to cast the images on the printing paper, I realized that I was tracking my father's gaze. His photos were very personal, taken for himself. Yet I think someone will recognize the joy I felt while printing them as the wondrous power that photographs possess.

Then I started to photograph my everyday with my father's camera Olympus Pen. Our daily lives are filled with small miracles that we don’t notice. Being invisible, they are difficult to capture in a photo. Things you can't see, but that are there: those are the things I want, somehow, to photograph. I wish to make an artwork that one could feel the richness of the world where we live right now, by looking at that photograph.


Noguchi Rika

Born 1971 in Saitama. Graduated from the Department of Photography at Nihon University, College of Art in 1994, followed by one year of graduate studies at the University. Began producing photographic works in her student years, which she has been showing ever since in exhibitions nationally and internationally. Recipient the 52nd Minister of Education’s Art Encouragement Prize for New Artists in 2002 and the 30th Higashikawa Award Winners - Domestic Photographer Award in 2014. Major exhibitions in Japan include solo shows “a feeling of something happening” (Marugame Genichiro-Inokuma Museum of Contemporary Art, Kagawa, 2001), “I Dreamt of Flying” (Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, 2004) and “Light Reaching the Future” (IZU PHOTO MUSEUM, Shizuoka, 2011-12); and group shows “The Light: MATSUMOTO Yoko / NOGUCHI Rika” (The National Art Center, Tokyo, 2009) and Yokohama Triennale 2011. Her works are in the collections of The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York), and Centre Georges-Pompidou (Paris) among many others. She has been based in Berlin since 2004.


My Father's Album / Small Miracle
Noguchi Rika

Date : 19 September, 2014- 5 November, 2014
Time : Weekdays 11:00 - 20:00 / Weekends and Holidays 11:00 - 18:30
Closed : Mondays and Tuesdays (Except for Holidays)

Noguchi Rika, the photographs For enquiries regarding
the purchase of the photographs, please contact the gallery.
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