Hiroo Kikai’s “Persona”

If you’re in Tokyo then you really should try to catch the Hiroo Kikai photo exhibition of some of his “Persona” series, portraits taken over the last 10 years in Asakusa, showing at the Nikon Salon in Ginza (free, until March 11). I’m not usually a big fan of portraiture but this work has something. The photos are also accompanied by lovely, somewhat wry captions.

If you’re going to be in the area this week then you should also see the medecins sans frontieres photo exhibit Democratic Republic of Congo: The Forgotten War,featuring photos of Congo taken by 5 members of Project VII, including James Natchwey, Antonin Kratochvil, and Ron Haviv. This is at the Shinwa Art Museum (also free, until the 5th). Particularly striking were the color photos of an MSF run clinic for sex workers by Joachim Ladefoged, which somehow managed to straddle a dangerous line between the sensuousness of the color and tragicness of these womens’ situations.

UPDATE: Peter Evans tried to post the following comment but my comments were broken (my apologies):

I second your recommendation of Kikai’s show.

The longer I look, the more fascinating these photos become. This lady who started photography when close to 80 — and on whom an Olympus OM looks as big as a Pentax 67 would on me — appears in a different photo in the book _Ya-Chimata_. And she’s not alone: Kikai doesn’t simply recycle the photos he has already displayed, but digs up variants. That aside, these are photos that really benefit from size.

Kikai’s books have short print runs. (Just 5000 even for the new and very reasonably priced _Perusona_, I hear.) I guess people prefer to pay for and thumb through the prettily vapid (in color).

Peter also sent along this well-annotated Wikipedia entry on Kikai.