Takashi Homma

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Takashi Homma
Photographer Takashi Homma shows backsides of Japan´s economic growth. (PR photo)

Article

Japanese suburbs

As the title of the Takashi Homma´s exhibition ´Tokyo Suburbia´ indicates, this series of photographs portrays the suburbs of Tokyo
Takashi Homma is an outstanding Japanese photographer. His works showing neat houses and empty streets have a hard and hopeless tone. With a certain distance, Homma portrays the dark side of the economic success that leaves little room for the realisation of individual dreams in cold and sterile suburbs. He shows no people in this series of photos.

There is something both ominous and ironic in Takashi Homma´s photography exhibition "Tokyo Suburbia". The irony here is that exhibition visitors are finding the gallery walls covered with images of the very suburban landscapes they leave behind on their weekend treks to trend central. From a Tokyo perspective anyway, the social landscape of "kogai" (suburban "newtown" housing developments) is quickly becoming "cool," in a perverse sort of way.

In Homma´s new, telephone-directory-sized photo book from which the exhibition takes its title, sociologist Shinji Miyadai addresses interest surrounding the junior high school student who last year killed and decapitated an 11 year old boy in a Kobe kogai, before mounting his victim´s head on a schoolyard pole. "The newtown is the space that produced Seito Sakakibara (the killer´s pseudonym). No doubt it has also produced many kids who have a lot of sympathy for Sakakibara," writes Miyadai. "Some kids can relate to Sakakibara´s act of chopping off the head of his victim, finding it "way cool" because it also contains some elements that are about de-socialisation."

While there is nothing especially frightening immediately evident in the endless repetition of neat little prefabricated homes, chain restaurants and massive concrete apartment blocks that Homma takes as his subjects. Neither is there a hint of the undercurrent of horror residing in the Overlook Hotel to be found in the opening panoramic shots of Stanley Kubrick film "The Shining."

But it is from this isolation, what Miyadai terms "de-socialisation," that the new class of disconnected Japanese youth is emerging. "It really makes you wonder," writes Miyadai, "what reality is to these kids who have spent their whole lives since they were born in a place with no name."

About a third of the colour photographs in the show are semi-candid portraits of suburban teens, who, with their over-sized, school-uniform trousers and dyed hair, come across as both semi-dismissive and wholly insouciant. The pictures do not attempt to catch the kids in an act of, say, vandalism or prostitution, and neither do the shots of buildings strive to portray these in a particularly dramatic fashion. With a few exceptions, there is a sense that Homma took his subjects, as he found them rather than waiting, for example, for the light to fall on a house in a certain way. This is a show which, it seems, is all about not really caring; an attitude that may best characterise the "cool" in late 20th century society.

As a photographer, Takashi Homma, has left behind the pouting-young-girls-in-white-panties pictures found in his 1995 book "Baby Land" in moving on to the more socially relevant work found in "Tokyo Suburbia."

The artist is off to a good start in documenting the unnatural and disturbingly "cool" environments and young residents surrounding Tokyo, and it should be interesting to see where this takes him.
Author: Karin Bergquist

Bio

1962 Born in Tokyo
1981-84 Department of Photography, Nihon University, Tokyo
1985-91 Light Publicity, Co., Ltd., Tokyo
1991-92 Lived in London, England
Lives and works in Tokyo

Solo exhibitions:

2000 TOKYO SUBURBIA, Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland
1999 HOMMA TAKASHI EXHIBITION 99, The Deep, Tokyo
TOKYO SUBURBIA, Parco Gallery, Nagoya
1998 TOKYO SUBURBIA, Parco Gallery, Tokyo
1996 SLEEP, Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo
1995 BABY LAND, Parco Gallery, Tokyo

Group exhibiions:

1996 BABY GENERATION, Parco Gallery, Tokyo
1997 Syning, Asmundarsalur, Reykjavik
Cities on the Move, Secession, Vienna
1998 Asia City, The Photographer´s Gallery, London
1999 Kimura Ihei Memorial Photography Award 1975-1999, Kawasaki City Museum
TOKYO 60-90: 17 Photographers, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography
2000 In the Age of Cold Burn, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo
Presumed Innocents, Capc Musse, Bordeaux, France
Toride Art Project, Toride

Since 1992, Homma has published his works in magazines such as Switch and Elle-Deco (Tokyo), Purple Prose and Purple Fashion (Paris).

Among his previous publications are: Baby Land, Little More, Tokyo, 1995; Tokyo Suburbia, Korinsha Press, Kyoto, 1997; Manga Camera, Rockin´on, Tokyo (a special issue of H magazine), 1999.

Merits

Award:
1999: The 24th Kimura Ihei Memorial Photography Award

Projects

This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.

Images of Asia

(08 August 03 - 26 September 03)