Takuma Nakahira has long been regarded an icon of Japanese photography. “Provoke” created a new photographic language to imagery, discourses and politics. After four decades, “Provoke” became the most major context for research Japanese avant-garde. But after 1970, Nakahira underwent a decisive change to refine his thinking of photography. His process-based installation “Circulation: Date, Place, Events” for the 1971 Paris Biennale was one among them. During a week, Nakahira lingered and took the pictrures on the streets of Paris every day; every evening the artist developed the films and prints rapidly and glued those black and white photographs to the wall and floor inside the biennale hall on the next day. After one week, there were nearly 600 pictures in all. “Circulation: Date, Place, Events” transformed photography into performance and dismantled the subjected consciousness.
In 1973, Nakahira destroyed almost all of his negatives and prints, only “Circulation: Date, Place, Events” still exists because of the discovery of the negatives. In 1977, Nakahira was tragically stricken with memory loss and aphasia. He returned shooting the year after with the images he saw everyday on the street: fire, water, birds, animals, trees, flowers, cats and street people. The new outpouring of color photographs achieving a vivid contour and color completed his provocation in his criticism “Why an Illustrated Botanical Dictionary?” published in 1973. The colored objective images are the ultimate presentation of his struggle to pursue the provocative questions disclosed in the writings and photography: the essence of photography is only an equivalent record.
aura gallery taipei will present “Circulation: Date, Place, Events” and color photographs. Concurrently, The Art Institute of Chicago will house two shows “Takuma Nakahira：Circulation” and “Provoke: Photography in Japan between Protest and Performance, 1960–75” for a deeper appreciation of the scope of Nakahira’s oeuvre. Takuma Nakahira (1938 - 2015) was born in Tokyo. He started out as an editor for a left-wing journal in the 60s, but left this post to help organize a major historical survey of Japanese photography at the invitation of photographer Shomei Tomatsu and transitioned into being a full-time photographer. He cofounded “Provoke” with critic Koji Taki, photographer Yutaka Takanashi, and poet Takahiko Okada in 1968 (Daido Moriyama joined in 1969) but disbanded in 1970. In November 1970, he published photobook “For a Language to Come”. After 1970, Nakahira underwent a decisive change to refine his thinking of photography. “Why an Illustrated Botanical Dictionary?” and “Duel on Photography”(collaboration with photographer Kishin Shinoyama, published in 1977) are his most significant writings. After his sickness, he restarted photograph and developed reinvented series. He continued shooting until his hospitalization from 2012. Nakahira passed away in September 2015. Nakahira’s work has been the subject of many museum exhibitions around the world, including ”Nakahira Takuma: Degree Zero - Yokohama” (Solo. Yokohama Museum of Art, 2013), “Roppongi Crossing 2013: Out of Doubt” (Mori Museum, Tokyo, 2013), “Things: Rethinking Japanese Photography and Art in 1970s” (The National Museum of Modern Art Tokyo, 2015), “For a New World to Come: Experiments in Japanese Art and Photography, 1968–1979” (The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and touring, 2015), “Japanese Photography from Postwar to Now” (SFMoMA, 2015), “Provoke: Photography in Japan between Protest and Performance, 1960–75” (Albertina, Fotomuseum Winterthur, Le Bal and The Art Institute of Chicago, 2016-2017) and “Takuma Nakahira：Circulation” (Solo, The Art Institute of Chicago, 2017).