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Nao TSUDA: The Rera Blowing at the Edge
Written by Satoshi KOGANEZAWA   
Published: August 13 2009

fig. 1 "The Rera Blowing at the Edge #1" (2009); courtesy of Ichinomiya City Memorial Art Museum of Setsuko Migishi, copy right(c) Nao TSUDA

fig. 2 "The Rera Blowing at the Edge #15" (2009); courtesy of Ichinomiya City Memorial Art Museum of Setsuko Migishi, copy right(c) Nao TSUDA

fig. 3 "The Rera Blowing at the Edge #7" (2009); courtesy of Ichinomiya City Memorial Art Museum of Setsuko Migishi, copy right(c) Nao TSUDA

fig. 4 "The Rera Blowing at the Edge #8" (2009); courtesy of Ichinomiya City Memorial Art Museum of Setsuko Migishi, copy right(c) Nao TSUDA

     How would you regard the place where you are standing? Would you consider that you are in Tokyo in Japan, or on the earth in the universe? Or, how would you look on time axes, such as the past, present and future? Would you consider them based on a span of minutes, hours or days, or of hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands of years? To what extent can we keep a distance from ourselves and consider ourselves based on axes of time and place? The important thing is how to exercise our imagination about not only observable or well-known things but also unobservable or unknown things. Nao Tsuda’s photographs showed us a set of extremely wide visions and speculations about axes of time and place. And in his solo exhibition entitled “Nao Tsuda: The Rera Blowing at the Edge” (Ichinomiya City Memorial Art Museum of Setsuko Migishi, 11/Jul/2009-16/Aug/2009), he succeeded in expressing such visions and considerations through his works, including the “Seven Days” series (2006), the “Basin Sky Atlas” (2008), the “Stars in the Distance” (2007) and the “Yamato”, all of which were created on the theme of celestial bodies, as well as his latest creation named “The Rera Blowing at the Edge”.

     The word “Rera” in Ainu means the “wind”. Therefore, it can be said that “The Rera Blowing at the Edge” means “The Wind Blowing at the Edge”. So, what is the meaning of the “Edge”? The set of exhibits ranges from a bird’s-eye photo in which many seabirds are resting on a solitary island, Rebun Island, which is the northernmost island of the Japanese Archipelago [fig. 1], to the picture of the southernmost island of Hateruma, in which Tsuda shows a view out over the sea and the island which is spread widely below the rocks beneath his feet [fig. 2]. The “Edge” means the “edge” of the Japanese Archipelago, namely, both ends of it, Hokkaido and Okinawa. In a similar vein, in the “SMOKE LINE - Around the River of the Wind - ” (Shiseido Gallery, 28/Oct/2008-21/Dec/2008), Tsuda combined pictures of different sceneries; pictures which had been taken in different countries, such as China, Mongolia and Morocco, in a line, looking down on the earth from a horizontal axis. While the photographs were created using the same theme - the wind - as that of this exhibition, it should be pointed out that he regarded the earth from a vertical axis when taking the photos displayed in this exhibition.

     Regarding this exhibition, the subject of most of the photos of Rebun Island is the sea, which is mostly photographed together with the horizon. Tsuda placed the horizon on the extreme left or the center of the pictures, in which both the quays and the sea were shown. In these photos, the horizon plays a role as a so-called vanishing point which is used for paintings, which encourages viewers to stare into the background of the pictures. Such images cannot be said to be unified like those of the “Seascapes” series, which were taken by Hiroshi Sugimoto, since Tsuda took the photographs using a close-up view and distant landscape in the same photo. In addition, in contrast to the pictures of Rebun, most of which were taken from a distance, Tsuda focused on taking close shots in the photos of Hateruma Island. In terms of this, also, it is clear that there is a difference in a perspective on the “edge” between Tsuda and Sugimoto. This may mean that, in Tsuda’s photos, the “edge” does not always indicate the far distance. Therefore, his pictures make viewers hesitate about how to look at them and they waver in distinguishing between visibles and invisibles.

     The above characteristic of his photos is clearly reflected in the “#7” [fig. 3] and the “#8” [fig. 4] of “The Rera Blowing at the Edge” series, while I suppose he took a picture of Hateruma Island for the first time in the ninth work of the fifteen pictures of the series (“#9 diptych”), in which a house with red roof tiles was shown. Indeed, in both photos, the “#7” and the “#8”, it can be imagined that he took pictures of the sea and the mountain at night or in the early morning, but we cannot recognize when and where these scenes were taken, since they were shot in extremely dark situations. Although it took some time to accustom my eyes to the dark, the dim silhouette of the subjects, which looked something like the sea and mountains, gradually appeared in front of me. Therefore, as mentioned above, I only imagine that the “#9 diptych” was the first photo was taken on Hateruma Island.

     Needless to say, it is not important for us to clarify whether the pictures were taken on Rebun Island or Hateruma Island.*1 It is too simple to say that these photo locations - the northernmost Rebun Island and the southernmost Hateruma Island - are the sole essential factors to characterize his works. Our imagination is stirred by photos which allow us to presume vaguely the places where they were taken, rather than photos in which the location is obvious. In this sense, there was a significant meaning in enjoying the photos, such as the “#7” and the “#8”, among the other works displayed in this exhibition. Staring into the dark is the same as entering an untouched place. In this exhibition, through the photographs which were based on the theme of the sun and stars, Tsuda highlighted the landscapes of the “edge”, looking at them from the sky, and guided us to a place where there was morning, noon and night, which existed through the movements of celestial bodies.
(Translated by Nozomi Nakayama)

In fact, according to M. Hirano (Ichinomiya City Memorial Art Museum of Setsuko Migishi), Tsuda’s pictures of the southern areas were mostly taken on Kudaka Island rather than Hateruma Island. I would like to ask you to take this into consideration when seeing phrases using the description, “ Hateruma Island”, in this essay. Here I cannot be sure in which place the exhibits were photographed, Hateruma Island or Kudaka Island.

Related Exhibition

"Nao Tsuda: The Rera Blowing at the Edge"
11/Jul/2009 - 16/Aug/2009
Venue: Ichinomiya City Memorial Art Museum of Setsuko Migishi

Last Updated on March 03 2011

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