Osamu Kanemura's black and white images get down into the crowded infrastructure of Tokyo city streets, where tangles of overhead wires clash with architectural geometries and neon signage. His photographs have a dark compactness, a sense of overlapping, constricting tightness, where the shadowy layers of the city pile one upon another, creating narrow alleyways and overwhelming mazes. There is something wonderful about Kanemura's messiness, where visual ideas intrude on each other like an unruly brawl.
Mikiko Hara's color photographs go yet another level deeper, finding women in moments of uncertainty in the subways and on the streets. Isolated women stand in long lines, buy tickets, wait for trains, and linger on sidewalks, their everyday narratives open ended and ambiguous. Gazes are averted, gestures are muted, and the scenes are unknowable. What seem at first glance like simple snapshots are found to have a deeper sense of mystery, a nagging undercurrent of tension lurking just beneath the surface. The more I looked at these images, the more they seemed to have to offer, if only in my imagination.
I have long thought that a dense, chaotic Kanemura would make a good addition to our city/industrial genre, and this show was a good reminder of how just many of his images would fit neatly into our collection. With so many solid choices, we'll need to invest some time in looking through all the images from the various series to select one with the right balance of complex skewed angles.
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