Osamu Kanemura

Posted: November 10th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: no blah blah: one artist | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Osamu Kanemura is often cited by Martin Parr as an influential photographer. His images of Tokyo in black and white are very graphic and show the city as a place of constant collisions, confusion and expansion.


Keihin Machine Soul, 20” x 24”, 1996, gelatin silver print

Street photography has widespread in the second half of the twentieth century mostly in Western countries. But Japanese photography is specific for its close relationship with the development of domestic camera companies like Nikon or Canon. This has lead in general to a strong interest in the technology of the medium rather than producing art.

Kanemura’s visual project is an urban portrait of Tokyo from within. We see endless narrow streets, a wide net of electric wires and street signs but also the fact that Tokyo is overcrowded. Some claustrophobic feeling emerges as the horizon line is not to be seen anywhere.

Tokyo, like most Asian cities, is a product of growth. After the Second World War, half of Tokyo was destroyed (equivalent to New York City area). However, pressing economic redevelopment and need of shelter didn’t allow central planners to create the new modern city that they had planned. Thus, the pre-war layout served as the basis for reconstruction: in other words, the city was rebuilt on its ruins. The government focused on infrastructure re-development to support the economy and the residential reconstruction was left to local actors. Slum-type housing, that evolved from village habitats, dominated most areas until 1960s.


Tokyo Swing, 20” x 24”, 1995, gelatin silver print

artist’s statement
Remove a device called ‘Understanding‘ from this world. ‘Understanding‘ is only able to understand that it can. Try to capture the images of the unimaginable left behind from the absence of understanding. Photograph is not a device that understands and translates the world but is a device that corresponds to the world without having to understand at all. Capturing images is not an act of accurately reproducing. Even if seen one hundred times the outline becomes ambiguous, untraceable, misleading only to be indefinitely mistaken. Exploding the outline. Abandon this outline, abandon this division.
Osamu Kanemura, 2007

1964 Born in Tokyo, Japan
1993 Graduate from Tokyo College of Photography



Today’s Japan, 20” x 24”, 1995, gelatin silver print