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HAPPENINGText: Amelia Ijiri

“Borders” is this year’s theme for the annual international photography festival, KYOTOGRAPHIE, held in historically and culturally significant buildings across Kyoto from April 15th until May 14th. Now in its 11th consecutive year, festival co-founders and directors Lucille Reyboz and Yusuke Nakanishi ask participants to reflect on the different types of borders that connect or separate us, visible or invisible. The festival features 15 exhibitions, among the highlights from this year’s show of established and up-and-coming photographers centering on themes of the human condition. Two exhibitions explore water to reveal how seas and bodies of water connect and separate us, a good fit for viewers on the island nation of Japan. “Passengers” by Spanish-born César Dezfuli and “WHERE OCEANS MEET” by Cuban artist Mabel Poblet. In a migrant world where borders are sometimes transient, other photographers elicit clothing to discuss national identity. From Japan, Yuiko Takagi exhibits images of traditional dress worldwide, while Coco Capitán focuses on teenagers from the neighborhoods around the Kyoto venues.

César Dezfuli “Passengers”, With the support of Cheerio Corporation Co., LTD., Sfera ©︎ Kenryou Gu – KYOTOGRAPHIE 2023

“Passengers” chronicles the dangerous journey of 118 migrants who fled West African countries torn apart by politics, poverty, and illnesses, traveling through Libya to seek passage to Europe. The passengers were photographed within minutes of being rescued on August 1st, 2016. César Dezfuli is working on locating the men and photographing their current lives in Europe, including government inaction and red tape. Many of the interviews reflect on their dangerous journey through violence and theft in the hands of traffickers before finally embarking on the rubber dinghy, which was the final part of their long sagas. Many of the passenger photos are shown side-by-side, and a ship-shaped sub-space designed by Erika Yamao (Loowe) brings the exhibition to the migrants’ images up close. It is impossible not to see the suffering and injustice happening as borders keep people out and in. His work highlights migration, identity, and human rights.

Mabel Poblet “WHERE OCEANS MEET”, Presented by CHANEL NEXUS HALL, The Museum of Kyoto Annex, ©︎ Takeshi Asano – KYOTOGRAPHIE 2023

Mabel Poblet’s “WHERE OCEANS MEET” showcases her meditative work, painting and nailing origami or plastic photograph fragments to canvases to create fluid illusions of “water” and “sea.” Her exhibition offers an immersive experience of walking through hundreds of mirrors and photograph fragments. The turquoise-walled display, created by Osamu Ouchi (nano/nano graphics), allows the artworks to change in the natural sunlight in the Museum of Kyoto Annex. Poblet states that her work is only complete once it’s interacted with by an audience.

Yuriko Takagi “PARALLEL WORLD”, Presented by DIOR, Nijo-jo Castle Ninomaru Palace Daidokoro Kitchen and Okiyodokoro Kitchen ©︎ Kenryou Gu – KYOTOGRAPHIE 2023

In this year’s exhibition, Japanese photographer Yuriko Takagi’s “PARALLEL WORLD” documents clothing and the human body in photographs spanning over 40 years. Part one exhibits traditional clothes worn daily and in extraordinary situations in various countries, expressing our ethnicities, gender identities, and social status. Part two is contemporary fashion photography in collaboration with DIOR. This exhibit is in Nijo-jo Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Exhibition designer Tsuyoshi Tane (ATTA – Atelier Tsuyoshi Tane Architects) uses the outdoor area to create an experience of continuity between the interior and exterior, hoping that visitors “feel the continuum in the relationship between photography and time in its monetary, timely, and timeless aspects.”

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