SUMIMASEN – JAPAN THROUGH THE EYES OF AN ESTONIAN PHOTOGRAPHER
The title of the exhibition, „Sumimasen”, means an apology. Still, the Japanese use this word to apologize and express gratitude, start a conversation, or when slightly confused. As highly polite people, citizens of the Land of the Rising Sun apologize even when they do not know how to help a lost Estonian or cannot understand what the foreigner asks. This is a word that all photographers visiting Japan have encountered on their travels, and it is one of those words that is quickly picked up out of practical necessity.
This Japanese-themed photo exhibition presents works from our first open competition and photos by authors invited by the curators. It is remarkable how many Estonian photographers have pictures of Japan taken over the years, all from very different and sometimes surprising angles. All the showcased photographers represent a unique point of view of the distant country and the life of the people there.
While some photographers have developed a stronger, more personal, and long-lasting connection with Nippon, others have a shorter and more intense experience. Due to his family ties, Ott Kadarik (b. 1976) has spent long periods in Japan. He has taken time for undisturbed observation, capturing meaningful moments and observing people and the city in the backdrop. He is not motivated by the touristic search for exoticism resulting in lavishly composed images.
Rasmus Jurkatam (b. 1982) is most fascinated by the contrast between chaos and order in Japan, where the neon-lit city’s countless subway lines contrast with the tranquil temple and nature. Eliis Laul (b. 1991) lives and studies in Japan and is most interested in Japan’s spirituality and how this spirituality is expressed in photography and traditional art. Rait Tuulas (1987) is a street and documentary photographer with a background in philosophy, exploring Japanese urban space through the lens of the camera, dismantling the chaos of metropolitan Tokyo into isolated moments that tell the story of a particular place and reveal its multiple facets.
In closing, as curators, we bring our hands together, bow our heads and say „Sumimasen”, both in gratitude and apology, because we understand that the selection of photos we have chosen for this exhibition represents just a tiny fraction of this fascinating, mysterious and magnetic land.
Acknowledgments: Artproof, Telliskivi Loomelinnak, Taevas Ogilvy, Hektor Container Hotel, Pakenditööstus, Tikkurila, Ajar Stuudiod, Leadgid, Rudus, Embassy of Japan in Estonia, Balmerk Estonia