Zen Foto Gallery is pleased to present Domon Ken Award Winner Michio Yamauchi’s photo exhibition “LONDON” from August 9 to 31. The exhibition marks the artist’s third solo presentation at Zen Foto Gallery following “Dhaka” in 2015 and “Hong Kong 1995-1997” in 2016. Yamauchi has continued to capture major Asian cities since the 1980s. Inspired by gallery director Mark Pearson’s suggestion – “Nobody photographs London, would you like to try it?”, London is Yamauchi's first attempt to shoot in Europe, capturing vibrant and colorful portraits of streets and people in the city.
Police officers would nonchalantly cross the streets even when the signal is red. This would be unthinkable in Japan but I suppose they knew that it is safest to cross when there are no cars. I was happy to witness that as I would always do the same myself.
I was robbed. I panicked and wanted to go back to Japan. A group of three men impersonating police officers told me they need to check if I had any drugs on me and stole most of the cash from my bag. They were so clever, like magicians - no wonder - this country created Sherlock Holmes.
There were more homeless people than I expected, but by looking at the cigarettes they smoked and the shoes they wore, they did not seem to be so poor - a lot different from the homeless in other countries who may constantly be close to death. The fact that there are trucks that provide free food for the homeless indicates that the country understands poverty as not only a personal responsibility but also the responsibility of society. Now I understand why London is considered an easy city to live in.
Inside the British Library near King's Cross Station, I saw an exhibition about the Windrush Generation. A lot of street photographs were exhibited, showing the waves of immigration into the UK from 1948 onwards. It made me wonder whether it will be possible to reflect on the current London in the future in a similar way with street photography, since I saw scarcely any photographers on the street and most people in the city refused to be photographed. “Nobody photographs London...” Mark's words resonated in my mind.
—— Michio Yamauchi