Arno Rafael Minkkenen's exhibition at Ryosokuin, Kenninji Temple (Photo: Lee Tan)

Kyotographie 2016: Nature and Life

Kyoto's premier photo festival on its fourth year

Arno Rafael Minkkenen's exhibition at Ryosokuin, Kenninji Temple (Photo: Lee Tan)
Lee Tan   - 3 min read

A Japanese and French collaboration, Kyotographie made its dazzling debut in 2013 and continues to make a splash in the photography circuit. At this eclectic photo festival, there are three stars on show - the photographer, the photographs and Kyoto. Each exhibition has it own character and makes full use of its space, whether it is a historical machiya or a modern gallery.

The theme for 2016 is Circle of Life and features renowned international photographers such as Sarah Moon and Arno Rafael Minkkenen. Highly recommended not only for photo enthusiasts but for art lovers too. In this two part series, we feature highlights from the 2016 edition, which runs from 23 April to 22 May. To get full information on the festival, visit its website or pick up the brochure at any of the participating venues.

Sarah Moon

French artist Sarah Moon has three exhibitions at the festival - Late Fall, Time Stands Still and the third is a compilation in conjunction with the launch of the Japanese language edition of her book. My favourite is Late Fall, a moody and exquisite collection of what Moon simply describes as "photographs of fruits, flowers and birds taken in late fall, my favourite time of the year." The extra-large prints are displayed in an equally gothic environment, with dark grey walls and dim lighting, and is an immersive expression of a romantic spirit.

Location: Gallery Sugata, Mirei Shigemori Residence & Kyoto Museum of Contemporary Art. Entry fee: 600 yen.

Arno Rafael Minkkenen's YKSI: Mouth of the River, Snake in the Water, Bones of the Earth

Finnish/American photographer Minkkenen's life work is an integration of man and nature, and in his case, the use of his own body in harmonising with nature, be it lake or forest. The exhibition, entitled 'YKSI' (which means one in Finnish) is exhibited in the extraordinary surroundings of Ryosokuin at Kenninji Temple, the oldest Zen temple in Kyoto. The black and white photographs are not only displayed in the rooms, they can also be found in unexpected places around the serene garden. A wonderful display of art with an element of surprise.

Location: Ryosokuin (Kenninji Temple), 591 Komatsucho, 4cho-me, Shijyo-agaru, Yamato-oji dori, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto. Entry fee: 800 yen.

Thierry Bouët's The First Hour

Bouët spent 10 weeks photographing babies within an hour of being born, with the aim of capturing the essence of new life. These are not cute baby photos - the babies depicted have wrinkled skin, matted hair and confused features. Some are crying, most are staring blankly, unknowing about their upcoming journey through life. The photographs are displayed in a curved, all-white room that seems symbolic of the purity of life and the womb. Interestingly, the exhibition is held in Korikawa Oike Gallery, where the work of the late Kikujiro Fukushima is also exhibited. Most of his work here is on the victims of the Hiroshima bombings, and presents a juxtaposition of death and suffering to Bouët's beginnings of life.

Location: Horikawa Oike Gallery, 238-1 Oshiaburanokoji, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto. Entry fee: 600 yen.

Lee Tan

Lee Tan @lee.tan

Writer, photographer and traveller.