Speakers to provide Japanese lens at photo festival

We chat to Auckland Festival of Photography CEO Julia Durkin MNZM about the upcoming festival and the two Japanese photography practitioners the Foundation has supported to speak at the event - Ihiro Hayami, CEO of Tokyo's T3 Photography Festival, and emerging photographer Emi Higano. The Festival is on in Auckland from 10-15 November.
A photo of a magazine open to a page showing a photo of an old telephone

Emi Higano and Ihiro Hayami will be speaking on 11 November - the day of the festival's Photobook Friday

Why did you choose Ihiro Hayami and Emi Higano to come to the Auckland Festival of Photography?

The city of Tokyo is the focus of worldwide attention and plays a central role as an Asian hub. The Festival has been working with several Japanese organisations since 2014, which is when I met Ihiro  at the Hokkaido-based Higashikawa International Photo Festival. The following year he established T3 PhotoFestival, Tokyo. 

We’ve been keen to invite Ihiro to New Zealand for a while – but the pandemic happened, and so hey, here we are in 2022 with this now happening!

Find out about T3 Photo Festival Tokyo 2022

As a festival, we recognise the importance of emerging artists on the scene, both nationally and internationally, and with Emi Higano we have a Japanese artist whose practice is fully informed by her educational foundation at Nihon University College Of Art, Photography and influenced by her home city, Tokyo.

The Tokyo photography scene is cutting edge, high quality and at a mature stage of existence, with new trends and influences that go beyond the physical activities of making artistic products. We felt Emi would resonate with students and emerging artists here in New Zealand and provide insights to life as an artist in Japan.

What will they be doing in Auckland?

Ihiro and Emi will be involved in a series of research meetings, making a public presentation, portfolio reviews and connecting with Auckland photographic artists and the public. This will include gallery visits to review work held in collections, meeting educators, and professionals in the sector.

As a festival founder and director, Ihiro has been asked to present on his Japanese-focussed Festival and the broader Japanese photography environment he works with.

The main public presentation is at the Ellen Melville Centre in Auckland on 11 November, and will include 'Photobook Friday II' 2022 - an afternoon of Japanese photobooks on display. Following this is Ihiro’s presentation about his work and Emi’s artist talk, from 5.00 - 6:30pm. 

Can you describe the joint NZ/Japanese legacy project that Higano and Hayami will be involved in?

Our legacy project is based out of Tokyo and the Tokyo Institute of Photography will be our in-country partner.

It’s at the research and development stage right now, but it will include leveraging strong collaborative partnerships internationally. This project will raise the profile of New Zealand photography within the international arena through artists support and exhibitions.

This pioneering international initiative builds on the universal appeal of the photographic medium across boundaries and borders and aims to promote and engage the exchange of ideas, values and concepts that support photographers throughout the exchange.

An image of a gallery space with a large photo of a personas hand and wrist taking up one wall

An image from the New Zealand photo exhibition/exchange in Tokyo, 2018

Why do you think it is important for New Zealand audiences to be exposed to photographers / arts practitioners /art forms from Asia?

It offers a collective network for artistic expression and dissemination of ideas and information in a increasingly globalizing world.

Working internationally inspires the imagination, which is crucial in the photography sector, and this exposure represents a great opportunity for us to build New Zealand audiences for photography from across Asia - home to a significant proportion of the world's population. There is a growing recognition, across borders, of the importance of photography in our daily lives. Photography is a universal language.

What else will Emi and Ihiro be doing in New Zealand?

 Taking in our beautiful beaches out west, and hopefully enjoying a day off while in the city.

Is there anything about Japanese photography that sets it apart – that defines or characterises it?

I think this is the purpose of their visit to help define these ideas and concepts about Japanese photography.

About Ihiro Hayami, Japan

Ihiro Hayami is the founder and director of T3 Photo Festival (Tokyo International Photography Festival) and was director of the Tokyo Institute of Photography. He was the former chief editor of Japanese photography magazine PHaT PHOTO, and was the gallery director of RINGCUBE (Ginza).

Over the past few years, Hayami has served as juror, lecturer, and reviewer at various international photo festivals and photography universities. (courtesy of Lens Culture)

About Emi Higano, Artist and Curator, Japan

Higano is a graduate of Nihon University College of Arts Department of Photography. She often favours evening shoots and her inaugural group exhibition introduced photographic works around the theme “Night.”

Three blurry black and white photos of water scenes by Emi Higano

Photos by Emi Higano

The main public event with Hayami and Higano will be at Photobook Friday on Friday 11 November at the Ellen Melville Centre from 2pm to 7pm. The artists talks will be from 5pm-6.30pm. Find out more