Daido Moriyama’s 1st South-East Asia Exhibition

By Leonard Goh (freelance writer/Singapore)

This exhibition takes center stage, and headlines the 5th edition of the Singapore International Photography Festival

Renowned Japanese photographer Daido Moriyama has had large scale exhibition of his works in a lot of western and European countries. The most recent would be of a joint exhibition that he had with William Klein at Tate Modern in London back in 2012.

For most of us in South-East Asia, the easiest access to Moriyama’s works would be either purchasing his photo books, or browse through his works online.

But for visitors to the 5th edition of the Singapore International Photography Festival, you’re in for a real treat. The first solo exhibition by Daido Moriyama in South-East Asia made its debut and headlines the festival.

Titled Prints and Book From 1960s-1980s, the works exhibited chronicles the Japanese photographer’s works from the stated period. And it further splits up into his notable series such as Hunter, Farewell Photography, Nippon Theatre, Lights and Shadows, and Provoke No. 2.

At the opening of the exhibition on October 7, Daido Moriyama was not present but his nephew, Sohey Moriyama, was here to grace this special occasion. On top of that, DECK did a special video interview with the photographer, and this clip was aired on the opening evening itself.

In the video, Moriyama addressed his works, inspirations and challenges. He also gave advice to young photographers: shoot more, for there won’t be quality without quantity. Also, get your works seen by as many people as possible, because different interpretations open new layers of contexts for your photography.

DECK itself has also been transformed into somewhat a mecca for Moriyama fans. The exterior of the building has Moriyama’s most recognized work of the stray dog printed large and plastered across the wall. Walking up the steps also reveals other works not within the 3 galleries that are hosting the prints.

On the ground floor, the large exhibition space features prints from Hunter and Farewell Photography. For those who are new to Moriyama’s works, these 2 series are a good introduction into his world, for some of his most influential works falls into these 2 body of works. Unlike a typical exhibition which has photos against a solid color wall, the black-and-white prints are juxtaposed against a photo collage consisting of fishnet stockings, another of his memorable piece.

The second floor sees 12 copies of Moriyama’s Record on display for browsing. Record is a self-published periodical that the photographer releases at whim, and features his latest works and musings. Don’t miss the gallery on the second floor, which showcase Nippon Theatre and Light and Shadow. But what really got us to the gallery were the original copies of books that are available for browsing. Any Moriyama fan worth his salt will know that photo books are his way of showcasing his works, and the magic comes not just from the prints, but also the arrangement and sequencing of photos that opens up different interpretations of the series.

On the third floor, prints from Provoke No. 2 are shown. Take note that these prints depict sexual and nudity elements, so if you perturbed by these, you can steer clear. But for me, it was a joy to see original prints from this series, having thumbed through them one time too many in his books.

Visitors to the exhibition may also want to consider getting a copy of the exhibition catalog, presented in the format of a zine. You get 20 pieces of blank paper, and a staff from DECK will proceed to photocopy Moriyama’s prints to them. This is in tradition an activity which he conducts regularly in Tokyo, and photocopying his works and distributing them was what he did in the early days, too. A signed cover (limited to 300 copies) will set you back S$50. Unsigned covers are available as well.

Pick up an exhibition guide from the counter before you begin touring the exhibition. The handout gives an in-depth glimpse into the show for those unfamiliar with Moriyama’s works, and for those who are familiar, it’s always great to read about them again.

Daido Moriyama: Prints and Book From 1960s-1980s
Address: DECK. 120A Prinsep Street Singapore 187937
Time: 12PM – 8PM (Tues to Sat), 12PM-6PM (Sun), closed on Monday and public holiday.
Admission: S$15 for single ticket entry, free for festival pass holders.
Website: www.sipf.sg

Leonard Goh

Leonard is an advocate of photography in Singapore and also an educator in this field. He has served as senior writer for the now-defunct CNET Asia, before moving on to working for various camera companies in the business development and marketing capacities. He is also a co-founder of Platform, a not-for-profit photography initiative in Singapore which also published Twentyfifteen, a collection of 20 books to commemorate Singapore’s Golden Jubilee (SG50).

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