Cristinerose Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of an exhibition by photographer Yoshio Itagaki.
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Increasingly, we live in a world of secondhand experience, mediated by an endless succession of images all around us. By now, everyone has traveled the globe, if only "virtually" through TV, movies, or the Internet. Even the most distant locales have become familiar, creating a desire for new and ever more exotic destinations.
Using digital photography and computer montage, Yoshio Itagaki has created imaginary tableaux of real people taking snapshots and posing for the camera in the most distant and exotic setting that humans have traveled to so far: the moon. Tourists, members of a Japanese wedding party, and honeymoon couples in these digitally stage-managed moonscapes stand on a surf-washed lunar beach, an expanse of sand dunes, or even a Buddhist rock garden, while the earth looms over the horizon. The wedding party has found the ultimate grand backdrop for their official wedding portraits. The tourists are taking pictures of one another for their photo albums and to impress friends and relatives back home; in two large triptychs, Itagaki has collaged together unrelated clusters of tourists to look like a tour group that has just hopped off the moon shuttle for a quick photo-op. In other scenes, the moonscape features memorials of human civilization or commerce, and brand-name logos are visible on a tourist's T-shirt or shopping bag. Photographer Wright Morris foresaw this possibility in 1978, less than a decade after the first manned moon landing: "We see ... the moon, we see planet earth rising on its horizon. Will this image expand the consciousness of man or take its place among the ornaments seen on T-shirts or the luncheon menus collected by tourists?"
In a related triptych, tourists pose for photos in a space that looks like a Star Trek "holodeck," with Buddha heads floating behind them; and in a new series, Itagaki has created digital photo-collages of tourists taking photos of action figures in computer games, as if they have passed through the video screen. They are tourists in cyberspace-a new destination for people to visit, once they've become bored by all the sights that "reality" has to offer. Itagaki-a photographer-tourist exploring territory that spans the present and the future, the real and the imaginary-takes an ironic stance, both amused by and critical of the insatiable human appetite for sensation and novelty.
Stephen Robert Frankel is an editor and writer.
Born in 1967 in Nagoya, Japan, Yoshio Itagaki grew up in Japan and Thailand, and since 1993 has lived and worked in New York City. His photographs have been exhibited in Europe, Japan, Mexico, and the U.S., including several group shows in New York, notably Expansion Arts at the Alternative Museum (1997) and First Steps: Emerging Artists from Japan at NYU's Grey Art Gallery (1999). His work has also appeared on TV-on ABC's "Nightline" here in the U.S. and on "TV Art Kanal" in Serbia. In 1998, Itagaki received two major art prizes in Japan: the Philip Morris Art Award and the Pola Art Foundation Grant.