Born in 1972 in Shiga Prefecture, Japan, Rinko Kawauchi lives and works in Tokyo. In 2001 she simultaneously released a series of three photographic books – UTATANE, HANABI, and HANAKO from publisher Little More, and in 2002 she was awarded prestigious 27th Kimura Ihei Award for UTATANE and HANABI.
I photographed fireworks every summer between 1997 and 2001, and this collection represents that body of work.
I was still in the process of making my first works at the time, and every day I underwent an agonizing repetition of trial and experimentation. For that reason, I found simple joy in photographing fireworks. Not only do they function as a beautiful subject, but they provided me with a sort of healing; I was living alone in Tokyo at the time, and watching the displays allowed me to be with others and to share that experience with them.
Alongside people of all ages, I would look up at the sky and marvel at the beautiful sparks. In an instant they would vanish – and so would we return to our own daily lives.
In a chaotic world, such moments felt like salvation: an affirmation of being alive.
Fire – a metaphor for both life and death. Beauty that dissipates in an instant. These have functioned as motivations for photography from the beginning; and over time, I think these notions have become symbolic of my early work.
Other noteworthy Rinko Kawauchi publications include AILA (FOIL, 2004), the eyes, the ears, and Cui Cui (FOIL, 2005), Illuminance, (Aperture, FOIL, Kehrer verlag, Editions Xavier Barral, and POSTCART, 2011) and Ametsuchi (Apeture, Kehrer verlag and Seigensha). She also received the eminent Infinity Award in 2009 in the Arts Category by the International Center of Photography; the 63rd Ministry of Cultural Affairs Newcomer of the Year award for 2012; the 29th Shashin no Machi Higashigawa Native Japanese Artist Award for 2012. Kawauchi has participated in and hosted a multitude of group and solo exhibitions both within Japan and all over the world. Some of her major solo exhibitions include: AILA + Cui Cui + the eyes, the ears at Foundation Cartier pour l’art Contemporain, Paris, France (2005); The Photographers’ Gallery, London, UK (2006); AILA + the eyes, the ears at Hasselblad Centre, Göteborg, Sweden (2007); Semear at Museu de Arte Moderna de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil (2007); Cui Cui at Vangi Sculpture Garden Museum, Shizuoka, Japan (2008); Illuminance at Gallery at Hermès, New York (2011); Illuminance, Ametsuchi, Seeing Shadow at Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography (2012); Rinko Kawauchi – Illuminance at KUNST HAUS WIEN GmbH (2015). Notable group exhibitions include: Rencontres d’Arles, Arles, France (2004); Foto España, Madrid, Spain (2006); Collection of the Foundation Cartier pour l’art Contemporain at the Museum Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan (2006); Blooming: Brazil-Japan Where are You at the Toyota Municipal Museum of Art, Aichi Prefecture, Japan (2008); New Documents at the Brighton Photo Biennial 2010, Brighton, UK (2010); Bye Bye Kitty!!! Between Heaven and Hell in Contemporary Japanese Art at the Japan Society, New York, USA (2011); and Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal, Montréal, Canada (2011). Her most recent solo exhibition, which included work from her newest project, Rinko Kawauchi: The river embraced me, was showcased at Contemporary Art Museum, Kumamoto in 2016.
Born Shiga, 1972
Lives and works in Japan
Prix Pictet Fire
May 26 – October 15, 2023
Fotografiska Museum New York
281 Park Ave S, New York, NY 10010