Taka Ishii Gallery Photography / Film presents “Remains to be seen”, a solo exhibition of works by Tomoki Imai. This exhibition, his third solo exhibition, and his first in four years, with the gallery, features 13 works shot after 2014.
Throughout his career, Imai has used the medium of photography to earnestly examine what it means to see. Looking daily at the world in front of us, he captures subjects that exert an irresistible presence and naturally draw the eye. At the same time, he carefully and consistently considers the gaps between what is visible and what becomes so; the conscious and unconscious; and the perspectives of the self and other, to come to terms with his relation to his subjects in each place and time.
If there was, within me, an archive of visual memories that I could thoroughly search through, I would first choose what is not yet included in it. Next, I would choose what has no place in the archive. The photographs I shoot are images that refuse to be contained in the shelf of memory and spill over onto the floor.
My photographs are of trivial and commonplace subjects found in ordinary and unclassifiable times and places. As if confessing my faith in those things, I quietly continue picking up the images that have fallen off the archival shelf in front of me.
I am interested in what exists between the systematically remembered and forgotten; between the archive and the dustbin; and between what is relatable and uninteresting.
I recognize it and have seen it, but cannot name it. It’s a memory that can neither be described nor comprehended, but nevertheless hints that it might allow comprehension slightly later. I think that’s what I try to capture in my photographs.
Tomoki Imai, September 2017
Following his representative series Mahiru – In the Middle of the Day (2001) and LIGHT AND GRAVITY (2009), Imai has continued to train his gaze on everyday landscapes in his new works. His gaze remains strong, but has grown more intimate. He photographs scenes that might otherwise be overlooked as if he was carefully scooping them up to save them from oblivion. The title of the exhibition “Remains to be seen” suggests Imai’s desire to devote his gaze to “the trivial and commonplace”, his collection of things that suggest potential comprehension but remains incomprehensible, and his search for a place for those scenes within his memory. His gaze, which aims to not only understand that which is visible, but also see through and grasp all of the time and memory accumulated within his subjects, arouses viewers’ memories and presents a universal experience of seeing.
Tomoki Imai was born in 1974 in Hiroshima. He graduated from the Department of Aesthetics and Art History, Tokyo University of the Arts in 1998. In his works, such as Mahiru – In the Middle of the Day and LIGHT AND GRAVITY, Imai captures everyday scenes of interiors, forests, and streets that are nevertheless filled with serenity. In recent years, he has produced “In Their Eyes” (2016) by following the works of photographers who made images from different political positions during World War II, and treating memories of the past as something not separated from the present, but rather as that which approaches the present; and “Semicircle Law” (2013), in which he photographed straight ahead the reactor building at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant from mountain tops within its 30km radius. He has participated in group exhibitions such as “In the Here and Now,” Tokyo Photographic Art Museum, Tokyo (2017), “19th DOMANI: The Art of Tomorrow,” The National Art Center, Tokyo (2016), “Meguro Address,” Meguro Museum of Art, Tokyo (2012). His works are included in the collection of San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Tokyo Photographic Art Museum.