past exhibition

Memories of journeys - Yoshihiko Ueda

Weekdays 11:00 - 20:00

Weekends and Holidays 11:00 - 18:30

Mondays and Tuesdays Closed

Entrance Fee 800 yen for over 18

artist statment

Memories of journeys
Yoshihiko Ueda (Photographer/Professor, Tama Art University)

Occasionally, I wonder where I am. In the short spaces between one journey and the next, whether sitting in my regular spot in my regular home, gazing absently up at a tree in the garden; or looking absently through the sand-soiled window of a Kashgar hotel through the morning haze at the street scene below, it feels as if this incoherent journey of mine has been trundling on forever without pause.

Whenever I travel, I make it a habit on waking to take a photo of the street outside my hotel window. Getting out of bed, I pick up the 35mm camera left on the side table, stumble drowsily over to the window, open the curtain a smidgen, and rubbing my sleepy eyes, peer out at the street beyond.
Arriving at some airport late at night, I am jolted by car through city streets trying to imagine, from the ambiance of the silent and sleeping town illuminated intermittently by the headlights, and the silhouettes of streets glimpsed through the car window, what kind of place this is, what color it is, before promptly collapsing into my hotel bed. So my sojourn in the new location really begins the next day, first thing in the morning, by observing the colors of the town outside the window, and listening to its sounds.
Invariably it is the street itself that commands my attention first in that morning scene: people from all walks of life, each walking, indeed, with their own purpose. Someone crossing a bridge on a bicycle, a woman with a parasol, people picking their way perilously along snowy streets, cold and icy. Thus it is people of all sorts, depending on the country and season, that catch my eye through the window.
Holding the camera, looking through the viewfinder, I sense the temperature and humidity of the town, the colors and scents.
Take the streets of New York, viewed from the window of a hotel in a Manhattan still half shrouded in morning gloom. The shrieking siren sounds of passing patrol cars and ambulances, reverberating through streets that weave between skyscraper and skyscraper, travel right up to my window high above. Listening, I shift my gaze to the distance, and spy here and there the red lights on the skyscrapers, their inhabitants awake and going about their business.
The fronds of a huge palm tree visible from the window of an early morning Myanmar monastery, and the tin-roofed houses beyond, loom through the haze of breakfast cooking fires. From the road, wafting on the pleasant humidity, come the chat of early morning workers and all the sounds associated with people transporting things. From the window of my lodgings in Istanbul, that semi-stifled sound of the call to prayer, emanating from a mosque far away through the haze, drifts toward me, echoing over the tops of the houses stretching to the distant hills.

When I was staying in a yurt on the Mongolian steppes to photograph the stars, I often napped during the day. Awoken abruptly by an unfamiliar noise, I searched for its source and found it was coming from outside. Peering out of the tent, I realized it was the hum of a huge swarm of insects of a type I could not identify, hovering above the long grass of the steppes, at about eye level of my reclining form. Entranced, I watched for a while, just taking in the spectacle, not convinced that this wasn’t the continuation of some dream.
Staying on a boat far out in the Indian Ocean, I remember feeling soothed by the tranquil, pleasant slapping of waves, like one might hear on a raft in a little pond, in contrast to the treacherous high seas I had envisaged. Through the window of the boat I observed a quiet morning, the only sound that of waves lapping against the sides of the boat, the only sight as far as the eye could see that of sea shining in the sunrise.
In saying that, I’ve also spent a night in seas so terrifying I truly believed I might never see home again.
In seas between West Papua and Borneo, I was on a small vessel at night, with no radar or lights, when suddenly a storm hit. Frightened and with no idea even of our location, lashed by torrential rain we spent the night huddled together in inky blackness on that tiny, untrustworthy boat, grounding on coral reefs countless times, having screws ripped out by fishermen’s nets, scared witless, our fears only exacerbated by sudden flashes of lightning and crashes of thunder. Watching the captain from behind in his sodden rain gear, lit up momentarily by a bolt of lightning, I found myself against all commonsense itching to take a photo.
In the Mongolian desert, I saw the world swamped entirely in yellow by a storm of sand. Stranded for the duration, we waited in this alien world for the storm to pass, amid the deafening roar of wind in what could only be termed a “yellow-out.” Yet incredibly, even in these hellish conditions, gazing out the window, whenever the wind dropped momentarily I was amazed to glimpse, like some kind of dream, a young couple on a motorcycle huddled against the gale, using our microbus as a windbreak.
At this point, I could hardly fail to admire the sheer resilience of the people who live in such a harsh land, bound by the rules of nature. Every time the bus shook in the howling wind, yellow stuff – puffs of sand – would filter unsettlingly through every and any gap. Through the windows on the other side I could make out, on the landscape, the indistinct forms of horses who made the steppes their home, predictably with eyes closed and ears folded, bracing themselves silently and stoically against the yellow tempest.

No doubt events remembered from my travels will over time fade into the distance, and eventually disappear. Yet occasionally, there are memories that suddenly start to play in my mind like vivid newsreels. These are the moments I’ve captured in photos. Conveying my own memories vividly to others is tricky. How beautiful was that scene? How harsh the location? How amazing the town? Photography is a mysterious device that makes that communication possible. Which is probably why I travel with a camera.

Travel photos remind us that some day, in some place, out of the blue, yet certainly, we existed there, and at that moment, were just as certainly observing the scene before us. Invariably I sense in these photos something like nostalgia, and simultaneously a kind of loss, as if gazing on something gone. The me that was looking at that exact moment, no longer exists. Time that must have existed, remains in the photo as time that has passed. Accompanying the nostalgia is a sense of transience. A photo is a definite duplication, evidence, of a moment that must have been, but at the same time conveys to us time that has passed. If photography did not exist, we could never have had these vivid memories of the past; nor, at the same time, would we have felt that loss so keenly.
Journeys meanwhile are about meeting and parting. Memories of these, and the sense of loss that accompanies them. In that sense I suspect the essence of travel and the essence of photography are similar.

Lately, something odd has been happening. I am starting to remember with startling lucidity moments I did not capture on film. Perhaps regret at not being able to take the photo, because my camera was out of reach, is sharpening the memories even more. I can recall these scenes as if looking at a photograph.
Meaning perhaps that those who lived before the advent of photography, were able to pull scenes they wanted to recall from their memories and describe them with great clarity, in the same way that we look at a photo.



Yoshihiko Ueda

Photographer/Professor of Department of Graphic Design, Tama Art University.
Born in 1957 in Hyogo Prefecture. Recognition for his achievements includes the Tokyo Art Directors Club Grand Prize, the New York Art Directors Club Photography Award, the Cannes Lions International Festival Creativity Silver Lion for Graphic Design, the Asahi Advertising Award, and the Photographic Society of Japan Lifetime Achievement Award, among many others.
Having pursued his artistic practice continuously since he launched his career as an independent photographer, he has published 32 photo-collections to date (2016). Among his most noted series (monographs) are QUINAULT (Kyoto Shoin, 1993), a brooding meditation on the eponymous sacred Native American rainforest; AMAGATSU (Korinsha, 1995), a backstage study of Sankai Juku dancer-choreographer Ushio Amagatsu; at Home (Littlemore, 2006), intimate snapshots of the artist’s family; Materia (Kyuryudo Art Publishing, 2012), images of primeval forest taken on the island of Yakushima; and his recently presented A Life with Camera (Hatori Shoten, 2015), a collection of works including portraits, landscapes, snapshots, and advertising photography from his massive all works spanning more than 30 years.Ueda’s works are in the collections of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art (Kansas City), New Mexico Arts (Santa Fe), Hermés International (Paris), Stichting Art & Theatre (Amsterdam), and Bibliothèque nationale de France (Paris), among others. He has been producing Gallery 916 since 2011.


Memories of journeys
Yoshihiko Ueda

Date : 16 September - 12 November, 2017
Time : Weekdays 11:00 - 20:00 /
Weekends and Holidays 11:00 - 18:30
Closed : Mondays ( Except for Holidays)
Entrance Fee :
Adults 800 yen / College students or over the age of 60 500 yen / High school students 300 yen / Junior high school students or younger Free (Gallery916 & 916small)

Yoshihiko Ueda, the photographs For enquiries regarding
the purchase of the photographs, please contact the gallery.
TEL: +81-(3)-5403-9161 / FAX: +81-(3)-5403-9162
MAIL: mail[a]