The South Alps City art museum director
(Former Yamanashi Prefectural art museum arts section director)
The recommendatory letter(translated)
Tsunaki Kuwashima is one of the photographers whom I want to pay attention to most at the collection of photographs “bullfighting island, Tokunoshima” and “Shuan” ,”Yamanashi” (All store up the British Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum).in a series of an essay or a private exhibition, [ push and ] As a writer I would like to observe the photograph art circles in Japan most now when it is trying to clear a new ground level, piercing through a look beyond a lens. It was held by the gallery of Yamanashi Prefectural Museum of Art in 2000 that I met with his work for the first time, A fierce black large cow seizes on an angle after the homecoming result announcement exhibition [Air Hole 2000] focus on the portrait work of London. The photograph collection in 2006 on the theme of the traditional culture “bullfighting” of suiting Kagoshima Tokunoshima is announced, and it’s created a sensation and an echo is called. Above all, as a matter of course, obedient everyday sensitivity such as gentleness and the calmness of islanders gathering in the bullring to- gether, and, as for what is particularly impressive, in intense documentary which I smell of the blood called “bullfighting”, two sensitivity to disagree with is expressed in one piece of work wonderfully.
As he is saying in many magazines “I think that a photograph is present-day ukiyoe” on regular basis It is said “What photograph expression is”, standing face to face against an object with the belief of liking to leave many at least
one masterpiece which can remain in a time. The energy of the earnest work posture and the young writer who try to open a new ground level is felt. By this exhibition, it is stored up in 2010 by SAINSBURY INSTITUTE For the study of Japanese arts and cultures and the British Museum,him who got evaluation high after that to a standard, it is in from an analog to a present-day digital photograph anew about the print technique of the collection “Kuon/The eternal idles” (platinum, P, and print) of masterpieces. By reviewing all based on the history of a photograph, alternative prints, ink-jet photographs, and animation works are made intermingled especially — strong idea that he would like to establish new self-expression again by the exhibiting method etc. which “The optical box / The lights in a cube”, and he call It has. The hot work energy to his young sensitivity and his photograph by obtaining the opportunity of this work exhibition anew, Let Tsunaki Kuwashima be a “Grant applicant”, having an infinite hope for the result so that a stone can invest in the art circles in near future Japan as a new photograph expression. I recommend Tsunaki Kuwashima.
Extracts from the scene of Designing magazine
“Dezain no Genba”
“To me, photography is like Ukiyoe in the era I live” says Tsunaki Kuwashima.
Although Kuwashima headed to London to let his dream, that is to be a director of music video, come true, he in the end chose photography to to live in.
The mid. 90’s of London is the era that came to alive again with many of talented young creators after a long period of absence with the fresh air.
The town got over the chronic disease of British and was paid off its economical success.
Having chosen the town of London, what Kuwashima was looking for from there?
The fashion photography in 90’s had a big influence from Purple Browse, an independent French magazine that merges Fashion and Art together. By the magazine’s appearance at the least the fashion scene was supported to require professional models or the similar that have perfect body in its photography, the magazine bared to choose just normal looking girls for the fashion photos and blurred the boundary of professional models and the not.
Also the fashion photography was no more deliberate ” fashion ” in the magazine and was just like snapshot cut out from everyday scenes. This anti-fashion style of Purple becamefashionable and supported by many of young photographers, especially Japanese fresh talents, and whirled all the fashion magazines into the style.
Yet, this Purple style could be mandated only for very significant photographers to cope with,as the photos of Purple style can easily look very puny if average photographers did.
I wouldn’t blame any fashion editors to take this style because it could cut expense on shooting off a lot and takes little time to shoot, which is very natural. Sad enough however, you cannot ignore that Japanese fashion editors don’t have enough ability to actually understand what photography is, so that mass-producing photos of this style upon its easiness resulted to give loads of birth of boring poor trash. And beyond that, even poor stylists have got started shooting Fashion! I mean, the notion of fashion photography of Purple style in Japan railed off from its initial purpose and only its easiness started to walk alone in the end.
Well, another result of this style that let photography get closer to people was undoubted though.
But the hope is still here. This kind of situation never last that long.
Fell into the hell, what is waiting for us is just some fresh air, new stream to come.
The photograph that Kuwashima creates would be positioned opposite from the Purple style fashion photos, probably because ha was in London at the time. Based on real technique,
his photography is condensed with the sense of the times and orthbox beauty.
His ultimate ability to mix the classic and keenly captured the feeling of the time seems very refreshing for this era.
” My favorite Ukiyoe artist is Syaraku. His left so many fantastic pieces whereas he appered suddenly and had gone just so shortly. No one clearly knows who he was.It looks okay to me, my name is not a matter as long as my photography lasts.”
Another point of Kuwashima’s photography is that he lives in Yamanashi Prefecture.
He spent his college-hood in Tokyo and then went to London, which means he spent his 20’s in the world’s biggest cities. Now finally he lives in country as Yamanashi wrapped with a nature.
This connotes that photography is now heading to gain both the nature given inspirations and
the city given from simply being inspired by city.
To express a new value by mixing the modern technology with nature is maybe what the next-coming generation like Kuwashima is trying to spesk for. In that sense,
Kuwashima’s creative world is to let us see the possibilities of our new era.
Interviewed from “ZOOM magazine” by Satomi Itai
Born in Tokyo in 1972, Tsunaki Kuwashima, who was then studying in London about PV production and advertising know-how, encountered a video in 1999.
The video displayed the images of “bullfighting” in Japan. Kuwashima thought, “I should not be wasting my time staying outside Japan ! “
Stunned by the video, Kuwashima moved back to Japan. He was drawn into bull-fighting, dogfighting, and cockfighting, events which excite everyone in the vil- lage, from children to the elderly, and entered into the depths of the world of primitive “ vermilion “ and its beautiful spirit.
This year, Kuwashima published a book of photographs titled “ Shuan “ (fighting dance in vermilion)that is comprised of photographs he has taken over seven years.
Kuwashima boldly and directly shows in the book, without reason, logic, or intrusiveness, the simple and unversal truth that “ To live is to fight”, through capturing tenaciously fighting animals, the proud people involved in such fights, boxers, and scenes of childbirth.
Zoom: I assume that people’s reactions to your photographs differ : some are glued to your photographs, while some have an aversion to them.
Perhaps half and half, I think. I do not mind if some people have an aversion to my photographs. I would rather hope some feel that way.(Laugh)If someone sees my photographs and says, “Poor thing ! “ or “ Animal cruelty ! “ and then, gets home and goes to bed without feeding their pets, that would be more scary, really. There are a lot of contradictions like that in the world around us, aren’t there ? I think that ideas about what is love are the issue.
ZOOM: What is “ fighting “ for you ? What attracts you to it ?
At the very moment when we were one in the hundreds of millions to be born into the world, our days of fighting or competition start.Yet, in a world without any frills at all, such as blood verses blood, or instinct verses instinct, something are conveyed in a very straightforward manner.Fighters are the chosen ones.Some bulls are chosen to fight and the rest are not. It is already decided at the genetic level.(the same applies to dogs and cocks. Nishikigoi, ornamental carp, are sorted out when they are fry.)It is the same for humans: the fighter’s blood in them naturally stirs to fight. To become a champion among those fighters is really something. I think that people are drawn to the fighter’s instinct to live and protect something important, as well as, to the simple world of raw clashes.
ZOOM: Animal fights exist all over the world. Are Japanese animal fights unique ?
In Latin America where gambling is more widespread, many people think of a fighting animal as a tool. In Japan, spirituality is emphasized no matter what hap- pens. The relationship of complete trust between an owner and his or her animal, respect for the opponent, gestures valuing courtesy, and the sense of tension loke sacred ceremony are very unique to Japanese fighting. Our Japanese ancestors, who believed living in harmony was a virture, have expressed themselves through that uniqueness since early times. As such, Japan’s time-honored and unique aesthetic feelings are worth watching carefully.
The photographic image is a cypher for a moment, passed and captured. The cypher is the result, or evidence of codification of an act, or rather several acts. The cypher encodes the momentary action of releasing the shutter. Releasing the shutter: opening it at 1/24th, 1/100th of a second (or whatever length, on whatever film speed) will let light in on a focal plane and fix for near eternity the real and virtual objects inverted on the sensitised plate, pixel sensor field, emulsion or film. This used to be a special moment. This making of the image. Hold it. Flash! Bang! Wallop what a picture! Making a photograph was originally a one off, right up until the invention of the motor drive by Nikon in the 1970’s. But the act of making has been accelerating. In the century and a half of photographic reproduction perhaps the act has become banal, or at least so easy to iterate that it has ceased to become special. The more the means of “photographic” reproduction proliferates, the more we have access to the edited high lights of everyone with a smartphone. The cypher/image is now an instantly sharable codification of the moment. Arguably the democratisation of photography in this way is a good thing. It means that we are becoming (in the developed world at least) a more visually aware culture. On the other hand, the relentless adding to the compost of code, piling up in the server farms of the world as a result of the world’s image sharing obsession might also be evidence that everyone thinks they are image makers. But the deft use of Instagram’s filters or Flickr’s frames does not a photographer make. When you come across a photographer, out there in the world, making images, you sort of know it.
The image base, the approach of a photographer is distilled from a different impetus, a different set of desires. It’s not necessarily about creating the evidence of having seen a sunset, bought shoes or ordered the perfect brunch. No. Photographers who are actually photographers, tell stories through the images they make and tell them continuously. The codification of their acts of framing lighting and shutter release create a continuum of story telling, frame by frame, place by place, subject by subject. The eye of the photographer is key. If this little discourse works, it brings us neatly to the work of Tsunaki Kuwashima. The perfectly compelling images of the dogu – votive figures made in the the Jomon period which stretches back to 14,000 years BC – have within them a story element that might be impenetrable, mute and mysterious. These images raise questions in the mind in ways that most do not. This is portraiture of objects. Printing techniques and framing techniques aside, there is continuity in the approach and the atmosphere generated by these odd and essentially Japanese things. There is an obsession with Japanese things here. The series Togyu-tou Tokunoshima (The Island of Bullfighting, Tokunoshima) is also portraiture, but documentary portraiture. The fighting bulls of the little islands carry meaning and history in their scars, posture and musculature. They are representative of a culture that is historically, geographically and culturally Japanese – but beyond that they speak of a time when our human structures of communication and communion were simpler, more direct and arguably more powerful. The fascination with the symbology of human activity continues through the images of cock and dog fighting.
Repellent to some though these images, and the activities they represent, may be, the documentation of these activities reveal an anthropological fascination on Tsunaki’s part with just how we communicate with each other via means that are becoming increasingly rare. To see, capture document and tell those stories is the function of the photographer. To do it in a way that is visually compelling, arresting and at times beautifully is the role of the artist. Tsunaki Kuwashima successfully combines the two roles.
Michael Horsham is a Partner in the art and design collective Tomato. Tomato has been in existence for over twenty years and in that time as part of the studio Michael has published books, made installations, created commercials and campaigns for a wide range of clients from the BBC to the Okinawa Government, curated exhibitions and designed artworks and products and made music and digital media. Michael also teaches at the Royal College of Art and is always interested in the possibilities of new collaborations.
The Eternal Idols
Interviewed with Mami Mizutori, Executive Director of the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures,and Professor Nicole Coolidge Rousmaniere, Research Director at the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures.
Text by Mrs.Kazuko Morohashi
The Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures
Tsunaki Kuwashima has been chasing the ephemeral shadows of eternity. Does eternity exist? Is it tangible? Can the lens capture it?
Kuwashima’s work is highly acclaimed for its unconventional, mesmerizing and at times haunting style. For over a decade Kuwashima has pushed boundaries to visually define, in exquisite lyrical display, the opposing forces between mortality and eternity. He captures how we humans have tried to negotiate life and death throughout history and culture by casting our hopes on the existence of eternity.
Kuwashima explores the notion of ‘eternity’ through Japanese prehistoric clay figurines and pots from the Jômon period (14,000-300BC). By making references to these curious archaeological objects that often represent the human form, he attempts to show the link between the Neolithic society, who mediated their life circumstances by idolizing these objects in search of health and prosperity, and the contemporary Japanese. The Jômon people who had no script relied instead on making elaborate clay objects to communicate their worldviews. These objects, and in particular the enigmatic figurines or dogû, for example, were believed to have spiritual properties.
According to Professor Tatsuo Kobayashi, figurines acted as surrogates of those suffering from ailments and their clay body broken in the belief that the act will restore health. In fact, archaeological excavations produced most of the decorative figurines with what appear to be deliberate breakages of body parts. Kuwashima was perplexed by the damage as wasteful. But perhaps destroying such ornate objects is what makes us humans—to create something beautiful with the intent to harm it in order to solicit greater power than what man possesses, even if that wish is not granted, is what separates us from other species. In this light, Kuwashima sees the clay shards as fragment of the human heart, and that the will to pray for the wellbeing of loved ones is an eternal human emotion. Professor Nicole Coolidge Rousmaniere, Research Director at the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures, observes that his photographic style strives to seek the very essence of his subject matter: ‘his images are compelling as they suggest an unspoken narrative. He creates an emotive world without words’.
While Kuwashima captures these objects’ ‘eternal’ existence, he simultaneously reminds the viewers of the paradox of the eternal: the decay. Can ‘eternity’ really be eternal? His fascination with decay is articulated most clearly in the materials he chose to use. For instance his prints range from platinum palladium prints on paper that is out of production and can be regarded ‘extinct’, to collotype prints, known for their exceptional archival stability, and inkjet prints, the most widely available print type but with the shortest colorfastness. The image of ‘eternal’ depending on the medium it is printed on can dictate the life of eternity.
The ‘CUBE’ installation he presents investigates the way in which we try to encapsulate, protect and preserve ‘eternity’. By literally encasing images of ‘eternity’ in untreated steel framed boxes he calls the CUBE, Kuwashima challenges us to consider whether ‘eternity’ ought to be wrestled into a box for safekeeping. Given time, these steel cases will eventually rust and take on their own natural decaying process. He asks whether it is possible to conserve ‘eternity’.
The CUBE-headed manikins explore the narrative of how we embody ‘eternity’. These CUBEs contain double-sided images including one that is a mirror. On one side is an image of a prehistoric figurine, illustrating Japan’s ancient culture, or Japan’s ‘memory’, while the other is a mirror to reflect the viewer’s face. In Kuwashima’s mind our personal self-awareness is a manifestation of our own individual experiences and our ancient ‘eternal’ memories. Mami Mizutori, Executive Director of the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures, comments that ‘Kuwashima is an exceptional artist who explores our universal existential desires. His work speaks to us in a profound way that transcends geo-historical-cultural boundaries. We had the pleasure of working with Kuwashimain 2010 when an exhibition entitled unearthed curated by our Institute staff was shown at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich. His photographs of Jomon figurines exhibited at a gallery in the city centre complimented our exhibition in a way that captured the imagination and connected with many regardless of their age, gender, culture or history.’
Tsunaki Kuwashima is an award winning Japanese photographer.
He studied fine arts and photography at Central St Martin College and London College of Printing in 1994. He lived in London producing a body of photographic work before returning to Japan in 1998. He lives and works in Tokyo and Yamanashi Prefecture. Kuwashima has exhibited widely both nationally and internationally in both group and solo exhibitions, including the recent unearthed exhibition held at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts and Foil Gallery vs. Zenkyoan contemporary art exhibition with Yoshitomo Nara and other prominent Japanese artists in Kyoto.
Nicole Coolidge Rousmaniere
Nicole Coolidge Rousmaniere is the founding Director and is currently the Research Director at the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures, and Professor of Japanese Arts at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK. She was until recently the IFAC Handa Curator of Japanese Art at the Department of Asia, British Museum, and was the lead curator on the Citi Exhibition Manga held in the Sainsbury Exhibition Galleries, British Museum from 23 May to 26 August 2019. She received her PhD from Harvard University in 1998. In 2007 she was the lead curator for Crafting Beauty in Modern Japan at the British Museum. In 2010 she helped facilitate and translate the British Museum’s first manga, Hoshino Yukinobu’s Professor Munakata’s British Museum Adventure. In 2012 she wrote Vessels of Influence: China and the Birth of Porcelain in Medieval and Early Modern Japan (Bloomsbury Academic). Her recent translation of Tsuji Nobuo’s History of Art in Japan was published by Tokyo University Press and won the Japanese Translator’s award prize for 2018. In 2019 it has been reissued as a paperback from Columbia University Press.
“Bullfighting to live”
Contributor : Wahei Tatematsu
-from Asahi Newspaper Company-
A cow is a quiet animal. The thing to eat fights with grass and cereals and defeats a partner and does not eat the thing which I defeated.
If a cow fights, it is for a human being. It is substitute struggle.
Most of the struggle is some kind of substitution if they think. The soldier exchanging the life in a battlefield fights in substitution who who is more for oneself. The public excited at boxing and K-1 makes a pretext of a player fighting in substitution what it is. A devil begins to be blurred by what time of times from the public openly if there is not a thing to give in substitution. It is the ruin of it that is the community.
I thought about such a thing in spite of being a chestnut in a page of collection of photographs “bullfighting island Tokunoshima”.
At first a sentence of Kazuya Fukuda is good. “The intuition called 臨在 of the death that I learned when I set foot in Tokunoshima for the first time was not overturned till the last”. But it should be called the smell of the dead person of the dead person rather than a smell of the death
Both the life and the death are open, and the southern island smells of the death in じその light when live vivid brightness rises. The reason why I am pulled in the southern island is the neighborhood.
There is sumo in Oshima, Amami, and there is bullfighting in Tokunoshima. Since it is a cow to fight as human substitution, naturally it becomes severe. I think that there is a settlement called the parent and child sumo in the root when I watch sumo of Oshima, Amami while naturally being a fight with real swords that I strengthened own body. A son fights against father, and father ruptures to a child gradually. I assume time congratulation.
But the bullfighting of Tokunoshima seems to have a pureness to have of struggle brought to a conclusion more not a settlement.
“The cow which won nestles as calm and family and friends who got sick from the victory jump and dance it, and the people letting the omen is dated it, and a child sit go through the condition of the indifference for a loser”
Bullfighting is a thing called the pure crystal of the struggle. I only separate only time for struggle and do not stare at the fight of the cow, and, in the place that I sail up the whole community of the island in a bleached bone and the past when it was and arrested, there is the heaviness of this book.
Without struggle, youths do not stay in the island. Bullfighting is the identity of the islander. The wound where a cow and the blood fighting with a photograph of Tsunaki Kuwashima drip is vivid, but, as for me, two men like scenes pulling each cow at the shore. One is a boy and pulls the cow which added a rope to a nose in the way that it is quite important. Although age is unknown, another one squats down by oneself and the cow watches it towards the sea and stands. It is a casual everyday scene, but close air drifts between a cow with a human being and lets you feel a thing called the eternity.
Tokunoshima does not have such a scenery if there is not bullfighting. There is not the cow, too, and there is not the youth, too. It is scenery to shiver with, but is the reality of the island of most depopulation.
In addition, around one cow, there is the photograph that boys pose proudly. It seems to be a team since I wear the clothes that it is full of the same black. It is strange for some reason that only a cow is expressionless in this. I understand well that the community of the island makes ends meet in this way.
In time following towards eternity, the person suffocates if I do not squander it in some one point either.
Therefore It is the desperate working for the bullfighting to be valid in an island, too. Because is a collection of photographs letting understand it well altogether,truely.
There is a contemporary claim. The photographer who I enter and speak of bullfighting, and came over hugs the whole Tokunoshima.
I write this manuscript in an airplane toward Ishigakijima from Tokyo. I transfer with a stone wall and go to Yonagunijima.
When I went for invitation to a ceremony approximately two months ago, people of Yonaguni welcomed you by bullfighting.
“Bullfighting Island Tokunoshima”
Contributor : Eiji Sakagawa
-“Commercial Photo”(Japanese magazine)-
The eyes of this refreshed photographer
Have you already come through anything now?
Kagoshima is a collection of photographs which handled the bullfighting that is an island next to Oshima, Amami, traditional culture of Tokunoshima.
I finished looking and have felt it. That if a collection of these photographs was according to title, a photograph of the conflict of a ferocious black big cow throughout, it is ordinary 100 made with only the contemplation of the writer that the collection of these photographs happens quite often
It was not to have changed at all.
A reason at the positions where a collection of these photographs is rare is that Tokunoshima is talked about well while running after violent bullfighting. Tokunoshima comes very much.
It was durability distance for the object of the photographer that I turned up a page several times, and noticed that a collection of such photographs would come out why.
The side where the side to take is taken is a natural posture exceedingly whether the person of the island is tolerant or whether a photographer creates a feeling of relaxation. And it was eyes of Tsunaki Kuwashima where what loved Tokunoshima and a person of the island came to that was more splendid.
It is the thing which a smell of the death and the sign that split finely, a thing such as the miserable air follow to a thing having a game cock, a dogfight, a letter “to fight” called the bullfighting, but there is hardly never it to a photograph of Tsunaki Kuwashima. An exchange of courtesies of the refreshing heat of people who concentrate on it every excitement and festival of the delight when slim of living people of the quiet land which it is other districts of Japan to come out and has been about to already lose. It is a human figure singing in praise of, “I live” while tasting relaxed time. Therefore I was able to see a figure of the working of the person of the south island strangely happily though it should be a collection of photographs of the bullfighting.
The look of the photographer called Tsunaki Kuwashima feels like hiding possibility to refresh the horizon of the collection of this kind of photographs.
A game of the bullfighting that I caught from under the side of the audience. A shadow of cycad piling on top of the ground. The look of the boy of the half-finished time. A line of blood streaming down the body of the cow like lava. The classroom where there is nobody staying of the heat after school. Time and the sea which stopped and the person who take a nap. It is delicious and is piled up without losing weight without becoming heavy, and a technique and sensitivity are put all together with it.
Have the eyes of this photographer already gone through anything?
This is because it feels like taking a photograph of the monochrome by a color.
There was not normally it to his photograph though it was the thing which produced somewhere cloudiness when power entered the shoulder when the person who took a commercial photograph became such a photograph and it was juicy and dried too much.
It looked fresh to my eyes.
Arrangement and the layout are good, too.
“The violence bared in one-on-one combat.
And yet, not the plastered in fresh blood colour of love.”
As summed up by novelist Maruyama Kenji’s comment about this book,
the world photographed by Tsunaki Kuwashima completely shatters and
smashes the equivocal image world of gentleness and healing.
For years Kuwashima lent his entire being to seeking out the “ fighting animals”
that are part of regional Japanese traditions, whether bulls, dogs or fighting cocks. His photographs capture “ the visceral instinct to live” that courses through their struggling forms locked in wholehearted combat.
Undoubtedly, he also shoots the “ workings and enterprise” that inexorably link
animal and human, an endeavor that is as strong as the will to hand the genes
for “greatest power “ on to the next generation.
Turning back the stoically monotone cover of this volume and leafing through
its pages reveals the beauty of the selected and honed animals prepared for battle.
The viewer is drawn, page after page, to the end by the overwhelming force
of the “fever”that grips these people who crave victory .
SYUAN is the much-awaited new publication by photographer Kuwashima
who has attracted so much attention in the photographic world and beyond
in the realms of fashion and graphics.
Tsunaki Kuwashima is a unique breed among photographers. His intimate portraits of dogs, cocks and bulls―all used for fighting―capture the purity of life before the eruption of violence. Over the years, Kuwashima has followed the lives of the animals and their caretakers and the communities who still breed these indigenous creatures in small parts of Japan following the age-old tradition of animal fighting that dates back for centuries. The animals are revered and respected, and the fights are held under strict rules with honor rather than money at stake. As contradictory as this may sound, these fighting animals are in the majority of cases looked after with utmost pride and care as though they descend from a higher order.
While many humans including the Japanese condemn such cruel acts against animals and detest humans who derive pleasure from inflicting pain and suffering on sentient beings, Kuwashima confronts the issue head on by photographing some of the most intimate portraits of the battle-hardened animals. He uses his photography as an act of intervention. “I photograph them to record the tradition so that it may go extinct. My images are historic records so that people can abandon animal fighting practices knowing that its long history has been preserved safely in my images.” With these thoughts, he documents and preserves a tradition through his lens that to many has no place in contemporary [life/ways of thinking].
The focus of this exhibition is on the extraordinary rise and demise of one of the most successful fighting bulls, Fukuda Kiwamichi I (1995-2010). Considered to be the strongest in Tokunoshima island’s bull fighting history, Kiwamichi I’s glory is eternalised through Kuwashima’s lens. The bull was for many years the pride of Tokunoshima, a tiny island that sits some 500 km south of the southern tip of Japan that Kuwashima calls the ‘Bullfight Island’. The bull fighting tradition here and the surrounding Amami region has a history of some 400 years dating back to the time when the area was under the control of the powerful Satsuma clan. Tokunoshima in particular has been renowned for its strong bulls and the dedication and respect its people give to them.
Through a series of large-scale collotype prints, the images of Kiwamichi I in his prime fighting years and his later years long after leaving the ring, the transience of life and worldly successes are eternalized. The prints are the largest of their kind – each measuring 120 x 120 cm and together spanning five meters across – ever to be produced by Benrido Contemporary Collotype Atelier in Kyoto, an esteemed art print specialist. The result is a dynamic photographic installation.