Asako Narahashi exhibits at IBASHO Gallery in Antwerp

Asako Narahashi (1959) is a Tokyo-based photographer whose work mainly focuses on the relationship between water and land. The main part of her work is shot from the water offering a different and unexpected viewpoint on the land. Whilst looking at Narahashi’s photographs they bring us the amazement of a reversed vision and the sense of disorientation. Although Narahashi also takes photographs on land parallel to her water photographs, they both resonate a unique sense of distance and instability. The series on the iconic Mount Fuji that she photographed between 2003 and 2013 both from the water and land is a good example of the ambivalent feelings of seasickness and floating comfortably, Narahashi’s work evokes with the viewer.

With this body of colour work, Narahashi gained international recognition and with which she has become a part of the canon of Japanese photography. Works from her series ‘half awake and half asleep in the water’, ‘Ever After’, ‘Towards the Mountain’ and ‘Biwako’ will be shown. Narahashi has made this body of work mainly from the water which has given a very different perspective to the genre of landscape photography. 

Since beginning the project in 2001, the artist has photographed over fifty locations worldwide with a Nikonos 35mm waterproof film camera. Narahashi floats chest deep in the ocean while facing back towards the shore, her camera held half-submerged in the water. By watching the waves without using the viewfinder, the artist times her pictures according to the swells of the ocean tide.

At the IBASHO exhibition, there will also be a selection of Narahashi’s vintage prints on view from her series NU・E, the starting point of Narahashi Asako’s work. Narahashi began exploring photography as an art student and in the mid-1980's she joined the photography group Photo Session led by the renowned photographer Daido Moriyama. In this period Narahashi solely worked in black-and-white. The nue in Japan is a traditional, mysterious creature. It’s a fictitious animal with a monkey’s head, the body of a racoon, the paws of a tiger and the tail of a snake. Nobody has ever seen it because it’s a figment of the imagination. This is the reason why the word “nue-like” in Japanese is used to talk about someone or something unidentifiable. The spirit of nu-e visible in the landscape of Japan can only be captured through photography, and years after the series began, one can feel strongly the wonder and eeriness of the unique world expressed in Narahashi’s early works.


Martin Parr on Asako Narahashi
Martin Parr described in Narahashi’s photobook, ‘half awake and half asleep in the water’, (published in 2007 by Nazraeli Press, Portland), how “water” and “land” have served as two major elements in the history of landscape photography. In his essay, Parr wrote about Narahashi’s photographs of the water’s edge as follows: “Yet I have never seen these two components put together in such a compelling way.” And, “… this work shows so well photography’s ability to challenge our lazy ways of looking.” We usually look at and perceive the boundary between sea and shore from the stable state of the land. However, the images of water’s edge captured by Asako Narahashi reverse our usual perception. They bring us the amazement of this reversed vision and the sense of being suspended in midair. Although they have recorded the reality of each sight, sometimes the water becomes something beyond water, the mountains and buildings become something beyond their usual forms. These images touch the boundary of consciousness and unconsciousness through photography. Being on the water’s edge, we feel both comfort and anxiety at the same time.


As of 1995 Narahashi has exhibited her work in solo and group exhibitions in Japan, China, the U.S., Germany, France, Sweden and the Netherlands. Most recently her work was exhibited during the international photo festival BredaPhoto in 2014. Her work has also been published in 7 artist books, of which ever after from 2013 is the latest one. Narahashi has been awarded the Newcomer’s Award from the Photographic Society of Japan in 1998, in 2003 the Society of Photography Award and in 2008 the Higashikawa Prize Domestic Photographer. Narahashi’s work is included in collections across the world, including The National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and Huis Marseille in Amsterdam.

ASAKO NARAHASHI - A retrospective
7 september - 15 oktober 2017
IBASHO Gallery
Tolstraat 67,
20000 Antwerpen

Micha Pycke |Club Paradis

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