Trails to Prayer by Makiko

Photographic Exhibition in the Atrium Gallery at the London School of Economics, Houghton Street, London.  24th April to 5th May 2017.

I attended this exhibition on Wednesday 26th April, for an exhibition it’s quite short and having visited the LSE atrium gallery before it only has 1 long white wall which can restrict the number of works displayed.  Makiko has displayed there before in 2016 and although I visited that exhibition also it was before this course began and is therefore out of scope of this blog.

My first impressions, a nicely presented body of work comprising of 23 pieces on 1 wall.  The gallery has a description panel at one end with sheets of A4 pages that inform the visitor on the history of Nozaki and Christianity in the region where the images were made.  At the other, a tv screen repeating a video of the island itself to add context to the monochrome images, next to this are a small clear box with small square business cards and a mini competition.  The competition is a good idea, a partial image asks you to identify where the deer is in the picture, an animal spot the ball competition if you will. The paper provided asks for the answer, feedback on the exhibition and your contact information, twitter address etc. which you then place in a box to win a print of the main image.  This is a good idea to not only engage your audience but it’s a spin on the visitor book experience which captures your potential customer base.

Images

There are 23 images in total, all of which are in monochrome.  Starting at image 1 they lead you through the island trail on which the Christians would have travelled between villages to worship.  the island is now abandoned and is gradually being taken back by nature, the villagers homes are showing evidence of failure and the pathways/stairs crumbling and turning into the rocks from where they came.  Nature is as it was before man and the wildlife, deer especially, seeming to lack the fear of human presence again.  this is emphasised in her images of the stalking deer, it seems he is keeping an eye on her to reinforce the fact that humans have moved out and the island is now theirs again.  The landscape also portrays the diverse plantlife and scape of the island, from a forest, to hills and then to a savannah type terrain moulded by the winds blowing from the nearby volcano.  the smaller images are well composed and draw the viewers eyes to the details in the image where they need to be through shallow depths of field.  Finally you’re led to the shrine on a very large hill that must have taken a good few hours to climb!

Presentation

The prints are displayed as monochrome prints on foamboard which I believe is stuck to the wall and 3 framed and glazed prints.  The prints all have a small description label to the left side at the bottom which identifies the image number, name and plant species in the image.  I found the last item a little unusual and assume Makiko has an interest in plants generally or her local guide provided this information.

The series of images work, I felt that on viewing these I was on the journey with Makiko across the island being stalked by a large deer.  The largest image of the series is framed and glazed around 100cm high x 155cm wide and forms the central image of the series.  Of the framed images of which there are 3, they appear to represent milestones on the journey and possibly rest points as you tend to linger more when viewing at those images.  My only critique would be that the large print seems to have suffered being enlarged and has lost its sharpness and the central image of the deer feels to lack the impact, the image is not pixellated but seems to be a little too soft but then I’m of the opinion images need to be pretty sharp to work but it does depend on the subject and your message overall that you want the viewer to take away.

My tutor recently asked me to look at exhibition presentation of work and I’ve taken away a number of useful ideas regarding sizing, layout, presentation and labelling that have re-inforced the feedback from my last assignment. In addition the history sheet on the island adds some interesting facts which the images build upon and an article from the local York newspaper enhances the exhibition as local marketing.

Overall

Although a little short I found that it was well presented, the series of images told a story which took the visitor to the island and gave you a sense of what it is actually like.  My only critique is regarding the sharpness of the large image but in context with the other prints I think this is intentional rather than a technical error. I very much liked this exhibition and think Makiko has done a great job here and I recommend a visit if you’re in London before it closes on 5th May.

 

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