Miyako Yoshinaga is pleased to present its first solo exhibition of Mikiko Hara, her second New York exhibition since 2007. Based on Hara’s recent book Change (her photographs with a short story by Stephen Dixon), the exhibition features twenty color photographs spanning over a decade from 1996 to 2009. The exhibition In the Blink of an Eye, organized in association with OSIRIS, Tokyo, will be on view from September 14 to October 21, 2017. An opening reception will be held on Thursday, September 14 from 6 pm to 8 pm. The exhibition catalog features an essay by Russet Lederman, a co-editor of Change.
Hara’s square color snapshots involve no noticeable high drama. Her portraits — men and women, adults, adolescents, and children — are often alone hovering in the bay of everydayness: a schoolgirl at a train platform, mother and daughter asleep in a subway car, a middle-aged woman sternly looking off-camera. Although these scenes were shot in Tokyo and its suburbs, the settings and activities have an ambiguous quality, the images evoke emotion and mood through nuanced facial expressions and body language. Hara’s landscapes and still-lifes complement her portraits in an even more nonchalant style. They reflect the artist’s practice of accumulating fleeting moments in daily life. The 50-year-old Hara recently received Japan’s prestigious Ihei Kimura Photography Award for her rare ability to capture seemingly insignificant moments in life and let them speak for themselves with subtle but layered meaning.
One of Hara’s technical characteristics is a habit of not using her camera’s viewfinder, partly because the camera she uses was manufactured in the 1930s and does not serve the purpose well mechanically. But she turns this to her advantage by allowing her to casually and boldly approach her subjects with empathy, while avoiding being influenced by a premeditated vision. Hara explains that she tries to grasp “empty” moments in the blink of an eye before they form any meaning. As a result, the people and places in her work seem free from geographical and historical reference. They are somewhere as well as nowhere, they are both at a particular moment and any moment. These paradoxically intriguing images are printed from color negatives made with a classic camera originally designed for monochrome films, adding a distinctively soft tonality and texture.
Born 1967 in Toyama Prefecture in Japan, Mikiko Hara graduated from Keio University where she studied art theory and art history. Through her involvement in experimental theatre, she discovered photography and enrolled at Tokyo College of Photography in 1992. During her first two years of study, she learned and practiced the basics of “street snapshots” under the photographer Kiyoshi Suzuki and other faculty staff. She took the advanced courses of the same school for two more years to develop her personal color-snapshot style. Since graduating in 1996, she has held a number of solo exhibitions in Tokyo, Osaka, and New York, and has participated in important museum group exhibitions in Japan, France, The Netherlands, Germany, China, Demark, and the United States. Her work is in the collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art among others. Hara is this year’s winner of the 42nd Kimura Ihei Photography Award.