Meeting Modernity exhibition in Los Angeles

Meeting Modernity

The Meeting Modernity series of found photographs is the focus of Néojaponisme’s first traveling exhibition. Recently unearthed outside of the city of Sano in Tochigi-ken, this series of pictures documents Japan as it engaged with modernization and commercial photography in the Meiji and Taishō Periods. The series is comprised of portrait photography in particular.

The exhibition debuts next month at Young Art, a gallery in Los Angeles’ Highland Park.

September 13- October 4 2008
Opening Reception:
Saturday, September 13, 2008 7-10pm

Young Art
747 N. Ave 50
Los Angeles CA 90042

August 11, 2008

17 Responses

  1. Ratiocinational Says:

    It’s a shame this is only coming to the West Coast, as me and my girlfriend will miss out. I’d love for this to make it to Philadelphia (my home town) or New York City. Besides, they’re better cities for art! Make it happen Lynam!

  2. Ian LYNAM Says:

    If you can suggest a small gallery in Philly that might be amenable, i am all ears. I have a feeling that this show is too small-time/off-mark for Space 1026.

  3. Ratiocinational Says:

    My girlfriend is an art historian and starting to get into work with small galleries and such, and has been the assistant curator/presenter for a few exhibits. I’ll pass the task of finding a place off to her and see if she has any luck!

  4. Ian LYNAM Says:

    That sounds great. If you (or anyone else out there) has a suggestion for a gallery where you would like to see Meeting Modernity exhibited, please let me know. I am all ears.

  5. Helena Says:

    And what about London?

  6. Ian LYNAM Says:

    Helena, we would love to have the show come to London. Any suggestions for a gallery?

  7. Helena Says:

    I am happy to ask around, have been curating for a bit and know places. In order to do so however I need more info about the project: How many photographs do you have, do you have a budget (shipping, rent) or not, when could you ship it over? etc.
    I am sure it will find plenty of interest here. Japanese art community is big. We have had Karen Fraser here who is a scholar focusing on early Jap. photography and so on….
    but i sense you may want to go for a more funky place…

  8. Helena Says:

    This is one of my latest project if you wished to spread a word:

  9. Ian LYNAM Says:

    Sounds great. There are 72 photos in the exhibit. Shipping is not a problem.

    Meeting Modernity is a private initiative without corporate funding, so unfortunately rental fees are not available.

    So far the exhibition will be in Los Angeles until October 4. The next exhibition scheduled is in Portland, Oregon on January 1.

    Any time between these two or after the January exhibition would be great.

    Ms. Fraser’s work sounds really interesting, and your curation at AQFFIN is intriguing- a nice mix of different types of work.

    If you’d like to email me the text in your project invitation, I’ll gladly post about it here. Drop me an email at: ian at

    Thanks for your consideration.

  10. Scott Writer Says:

    I would be interested in helping you find a home for this should you be interested in bringing it to Melbourne. I’m not an ‘arts insider’ here, but I know some likely sorts that might be able to assist. Do you think (with the distances involved) that this would be viable, perhaps sometime next year?

    Btw. you might be interested in the ‘Picture Paradise’ show at the National Gallery of Australia, which explores a similar theme.

  11. Ian LYNAM Says:

    Hi Scott,

    That sounds great. We would be happy to have the show come to Melbourne. If you have any suggestions, we are all ears!

    Thanks very much!

  12. Leki Says:

    How about showing the photographs at the Brunei Gallery in London?

  13. Ian LYNAM Says:

    Hi Leki,

    Application is underway, thanks to the efforts of Helena. Thanks!

  14. Ian LYNAM Says:

    I fought a troll for them. Smarmy comments get you nothing.

  15. Ian LYNAM Says:

    The relation to modernity is contextual- they’re “just” old pictures from the first era of photography in Japan. Call it what you will.

    Who is this “I” that we are talking about?

  16. Ian LYNAM Says:

    They are found photographs which were given to me by a nice lady who runs an antique store in Tochigi-ken. In terms of personal meaning, I think that they are excellent example of how commercial art can become an accidental chronicle of history and culture for mass audiences. Who the folks in the pictures are are unknown. How they relate to modernity is excellently phrased in this excerpt from the essay David wrote for the exhibition:
    “Mostly commercial portrait photography from the early 20th century, the pictures show families in a mix of traditional kimono and yukata as well as imported dress designs and Western looks for men. Young boys dress in formal hakama but hold schoolboy caps clearly cribbed from European designs. Women show traditional “up” Japanese hair styles and fashionable “down” Western bobs. Some of the photos are staged portraits and some feel spontaneous, but they both suggest that the very act of picture-taking was a momentous event for its subjects.

    Besides the intrinsic historical value of capturing this particular juncture in Japanese society, the photographs offer a few important reminders about Japanese culture. First, this period of rapid change resulted in cultural elements now protected and cherished as key components of social continuity.”

    Most of all, they are interesting pieces of found photography from a time gone by and I really appreciated them. Maybe it’s fucked to put families’ portraits out in public. Some folks have told me so. I think they stand on their own as an interesting collection of cultural artifacts, and it may be insensitive of me to put them in the public eye, but in the end, it was my choice. I thought their interest overrode other factors. Maybe a bad move. We’ll see.

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