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Victoria Cooper+Doug Spowart Blog

Slowing time in the temple, the darkroom and in the gallery

with 2 comments

KEIKO GOTO’s Zen in 35mm

Tacit Art Galleries 7 November – 2 December, 2018

 

In the contemporary society all aspects of life are on hyper speed, every human endeavour is intensified and condensed into sound bites, vision-bites, 3D, in-the-moment, hyper-experiential consumeristic bliss. In this space the photographs by Keiko Goto are a complete anathema. Goto’s photographs don’t shout at the viewer, they don’t profess to demand a political viewpoint and they don’t leave us with demands for us to feel concerned or ambivalent for the subjects in the pictures.

 

Tacit Gallery installation: Zen in 35mm

 

Keiko Goto’s photographs are viewed in the context of a white walled gallery on entering the room they appear as small darkly toned windows. When approaching the photographs, perhaps with knowledge of the accompanying artist’s statement and the eloquent catalogue essay by Kerrilee Ninnis, an enveloping quietness descends, and a story is revealed in a sequence of low key black and white photographs.

 

 

Embraced by Soft Spring Light

 

The exhibition is entitled Zen in 35mm and presents a series of vignettes, each a moment in the life of a Japanese monk in the Kichijyoji temple in Tokyo. The view that each photograph shows is from a distanced viewpoint – she is a trusted observer in his space. Her photographs are nearly all quite dark with a spotlight delineating, by chiaroscuro the shape of the monk’s form, a head or a profile, from the dark ground. Other images are of the temple place and the monk’s sparse accoutrements.

Silent Chanting

 

Goto is in tune with with the ways of Zen through her Japanese cultural background and the experience that comes from her attendance at the temple over many years to learn and practice calligraphy.

All photographs are made on film and carefully printed by the author in gelatine silver fibre paper. Some images have been printed using enlarged negatives on platinum-palladium hand-coated paper with Goto’s distinctive calligraphic styled brush strokes. Adding perhaps to the following of traditions in photography is the fact that she uses a Leica IIIb camera from the 1930s.

 

Ouryouki

 

The monk concentrates on his devotion and to the rituals of his observance of Buddhism. Goto observes the scene silently waiting to receive the distilled moment. Later in the darkroom the film is process in strict accordance with a codified ritual. Quiet meditations continue in the stillness of the safelight-illuminated darkroom. The simple rhythm of the rocking tray and the beauty is revealed as the image develops in the tray. In many ways the use of analogue capture and printmaking could have some sympatico – a mutual commonality with the performance and commitment of Zen philosophy.

 

Back in the gallery the presentation reflects Goto’s experience. It is as if the gestural movement of the brush on paper has been transformed into these walls – each image a monochrome fragment becomes a calligraphy pictogram. Time is slowed in viewing these images and in this reflective quietness the photographs reveal the monk’s story through Keiko Goto’s own meditative work – like visualised haiku poems…

 

In the darkness – light

A head bowed, a murmur inside

Photographer’s eye

 

Doug Spowart

December 27, 2018

 

Perfect Garden

Meditation 4

Meditation 3

Meditation 1

Lustrous Robe

 

 

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Written by Cooper+Spowart

December 28, 2018 at 4:31 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Thank you for introducing me to this artist. I enjoyed the words as well as the images.

    Jeff

    December 29, 2018 at 11:33 am


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