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Mary McCartney: Moment of Affection


Go inside the worlds of art, fashion, design, and lifestyle.

Newberry, MI
Courtesy of Miyaka Yoshinaga Gallery
Yojiro Imasaka
Newberry, MI

Yojiro Imasaka’s Ghostly Landscapes

By Sola Agustsson

May 20, 2014

Though the idea of a road trip photo series is nothing new, Yojiro Imasaka manages to capture a unique sense of ghostliness and mystery in his photographs of American landscapes. Inspired by the haunting of Hiroshima, where he is from, he set out to unearth a similar sensibility while traversing abandoned fields, lush marshes, and lonely highways. His current exhibition “Sleeping Beauty,” on view at Miyako Yoshinaga Gallery, includes over 20 black-and-white and color photographs, along with an accompanying VHS slideshow. We talked to the artist about his process and new exhibit.

WHITEWALL: Why do you choose to shoot with film?

Open Gallery

Newberry, MI

YOJIRO IMASAKA: I started learning photography by shooting with black-and-white film in school. Soon, really I got into the classic method of photography, developing film and making prints in a darkroom. Working in a darkroom is like meditation for me. It makes my mind empty and also presents so many questions at the same time, like, “why did I choose this subject matter?” or “what was it that attracted me to it so much?” Shooting with film, especially large-format just slows everything down and forces me to face what I’m really looking at. Also, “texture” is one of the key aspects of my work. I want people to be drawn into an image and for it to take you somewhere else. I just feel that shooting with film allows for more texture and reveals more details, and it is suitable for what I want to present to people.

WW: This series came from a road trip across the United States. How do you think being from another country informed your artistic perspective?

Open Gallery


YI: I’m a big fan of some of the American masters of photography who have previously done road trips and made great work, such as Stephan Shore and William Eggleston. So, I was excited about what I was going to see and capture along on my trip as a foreigner. As the Japanese photography expert Russet Lederman who wrote an essay for my first monograph “USA -Untitled Scapes of America” said, “A Japanese photographer born in the urban center of Hiroshima – not far from the skeletal remains of the Atomic Bomb Dome – he intuitively explores the footprints of our humanity in the decaying grain silos and deserted forest cabins of rural America.” With my work, I think I saw and captured this country in a very different way from those great American photographers, yet I still believe that I photographed something that reminds you of a sense of nostalgia and this is very common among all of us, no matter where we are or from in the world.

WW: What is the significance of the title of your exhibition, “Sleeping Beauty?”

Open Gallery

Courtesy of Miyaka Yoshinaga Gallery

YI: I initially titled the exhibition the same as my book, “USA -Untitled Scapes of America”, but soon I thought I should title it differently, since a number of images in the show are uniquely different from the book. And then, a director from the Miyako Yoshinaga gallery said “Sleeping Beauty” out of the blue, and I liked it a lot. I think the title is important, yet a title is just a title. I’m happy as long as there is a space where viewers are able to associate in their minds with my work and the title.

WW: Some of the lush landscapes look immensely green. Did you alter them?

Open Gallery

Yojiro Imasaka

YI: Yes, I did. I don’t add or remove anything when I make a print. But, sometimes I alter contrast and color. I don’t consider myself as a documentary photographer, and I’m not trying to recreate the original color of the subject matter, but I do care more about what I have been feeling from the scene or how it affects me. However, our memory is so fragile that in the process of making prints, I sometime enhance the color and change contrast in order to re-experience it.

WW: Some photographs seem slightly staged, with the insertion of a bicycle or a wheelbarrow. How often do you “set up” scenes for your photographs?

YI: I’m glad that you asked me that question. I usually do not stage, particularly for this series of my work, I did not stage at all. What you see is what it was there. Even among all of my past projects, there is only one or two images that I asked people to be there or put something in the landscape on purpose. I just spend hours and hours driving without a map to find a perfect spot. Sometimes I drive more than ten hours a day. It’s part of my work and I enjoy it a lot, because I get lost often and sometimes I discover something I never would have expected.

WW: Are you working on any other upcoming projects?

YI: I’m always working on several projects simultaneously, but my main focus right now is for the next road-trip, which will be in Europe this summer. I will be making mural prints for my next show and will be publishing a second book from the trip.

“Sleeping Beauty” will be exhibited at Miyako Yoshinaga Gallery through May 24.

HiroshimaMiyako Yoshinaga galleryYojiro Imasaka


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