Edition 2004



Over the last ten years, Osamu Kanemura has photographed a host of urban landscapes, with a systematic emphasis on their material immediacy. His work lays bare the true face of cities ignored and forgotten by their inhabitants: seen through a foreigner’s eyes, a familiar landscape can take on a completely different appearance and provide a new visual experience. Recognition for Kanemura's early work on urban signs came first from abroad: his pictures appeared at the 1992 Rotterdam Photography Biennale “Wasteland” and the 1996 “New photography 12” exhibition at MoMA, New York. While the reception given to his photography can be seen as reflecting a vogue for the exotic, his images speak eloquently of the absolute loss of signs referring to a specific history and memory. They evoke a "vernacular anonymity" that can never be culturally sublimated.What obsesses him in Japanese cities since the collapse of the bubble economy is not cutting-edge fashion, ultramodern architecture, streetscapes symbolic of an advanced information society or the noisy downtown hangouts Nobuyoshi Araki photographs with such affectionate curiosity. In Kanemura’s work the remnants of urban signs dominate the picture in a way that cancels them out, leaving only endless, meaningless echoes. In his fragmentary images of the urban by-products of an industrialised capitalist society, these sites – in which people live as if nothing has changed – are pitilessly proclaimed “memory-free ruins”. This is a coolly literal visual critique of an apparent dead end: for Japan and for the illusion of “evolution” in contemporary civilisation. We already live amid ruins devoid of emotion. Shino Kuraishi for BLINK

Exhibition realised with the collaboration of Yumiko Chiba, Tokyo (Japan). With the backing of the Japan Foundation.

  • Institutional partners

    • République Française
    • Région Provence Alpes Côté d'Azur
    • Département des Bouches du Rhône
    • Arles
    • Le Centre des monuments nationaux est heureux de soutenir les Rencontres de la Photographie d’Arles en accueillant des expositions dans l’abbaye de Montmajour
  • Main partners

    • Fondation LUMA
    • BMW
    • SNCF
    • Kering
  • Media partners

    • Arte
    • Lci
    • Konbini
    • Le Point
    • Madame Figaro
    • France Culture