January 25~30, 2001
Second Annual 'Surimono Albums' Exhibition
(Gallery Shinjuku Takano, Tokyo)
Those people who visited last year's show - the first exhibition of the Surimono Albums - were perhaps be a bit surprised with what they saw this time. Things were a bit different ...
From the elevator lobby, the entrance looked pretty much the same as always:
Once inside though, the visitors found that the shoji screens that I used last year to provide light for the prints were gone. In their place was a row of panels.
From the entranceway, the prints themselves were not visible, but when you stepped forward to the panels ...
... you could see each print on display, paired with its accompanying essay. The prints were not in frames, but mounted 'bare' on stiff card, directly underneath a small spotlight.
This was a complete reversal of the previous show, where my intent was to try and duplicate the light conditions that would have been common some hundreds of years ago, when these prints were first made.
That worked quite well, but during the course of the show, I discovered that although the prints did indeed look beautiful, many people found the viewing circumstances physically uncomfortable. "Not enough light!" "I can't see them properly!" ... were frequent comments.
So this year I switched to a more traditional display system. But even though the lights were quite bright, I placed them in such a way that the embossing on the surface of the print was highlighted, and actually I have to admit that they looked quite spectacular!
They didn't look flat and dead, like they would in a matted glass frame, but 'raw and touchable' ...
Seen from the other direction, the full set of ten prints was clearly visible. (Remember that this is Japan, and things read from right to left. The first print in the set is the one near the entrance ...)
On the wall opposite the ten panel pairs were the prints from last year's set, simply pinned up on cards without any special lighting.
Down at the end of the row of panels, the room opened out a bit, and it is there where my 'demonstration corner' was laid out.
Facing the workbench was the wall where the 'business' side of things is handled ...
The order forms were here, and on the wall were materials showing people just how my 'system' works: (1) place the order this week; (2) in March your album cover and the first print will arrive; (3) each month after that, one more print will arrive; (4) around the end of the year, the album will be completed ... As always, I refused to talk to people about what prints will be in the coming album. That will remain my surprise ...
A small gap in the curtain beside the workbench led to the 'back room' ...
... in which the hundred prints of the 'Hyakunin Isshu' were displayed.
They were in groups of ten, laid out in the sequence in which I made them. Here is the second group of 50. (The first group is in the next alcove.)
At the far end of this back room was a small display of recent newspaper and magazine clippings about my work.
Another gap in the curtain here brought people out at the front of the gallery, just where they started ... It took most people at least a half hour to make their way round the whole thing, although quite a few did stay longer, taking time to study the prints that they found most attractive.
Attendance was light this time, as the media coverage was 'down' a bit from the previous year. I had excellent radio and TV then, but can't expect to get such good treatment every year ... But there were still plenty of people coming in during the week, and as usual, I was a bit hoarse by the end of the show.
Then it was time to get started on the real work - making the next ten prints!