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Oct 9, 2012  ·  2 min read Andrew Frost

During 2012 The Japan Foundation Gallery has been staging Momentum, a series of related photographic exhibitions that have attempted to picture the “…immense power and momentum that drives the nation of Japan.” After the devastating earthquake and tsunami of 2011, such efforts have been essential to reestablishing a sense of Japanese self-image and Messages for Our Children – 3/11: A New Beginning – which collected together images taken by children from the effected areas – and Tohoku: Through the Eyes of Japanese Photographers – a more traditional ethnographic approach – pictured the country both new and old.

The last exhibition in the series is Nippon-Jin, an exhibition of images by commercial photographer Junichi Takahashi. Working in Tokyo and New York, Takahashi’s images couldn’t be glossier: shot against white backgrounds with subjects in makeup and immaculately clothed and costumed. The images explore the differences between the Japanese as they are seen by the rest of the world, and as they are seen at home. For Westerners, the difference is extremely subtle, but traces of this difference can be found in the mock-serious poses, crossed eyes and flashed peace signs that suggest an ironic self-awareness. In addition to the fun, the show also includes Takahashi’s shots of the still-effected disaster areas of coastal Japan.

August 31 until September 8

Japan Foundation Gallery, Sydney

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