Fotomuseum Winterthur | Saturday, 18.01. – Sunday, 16.03.2003

Yoshiko Seino – The Sign of Life

As The Sign of Life unfolds, Yoshiko Seino’s remarkable vision of contemporary Japanese landscapes is at once evident. In this original collection of her photographs, we see a multitude of contradictory elements which coexist in curious, uncharacteristic harmony. Natural life survives in harsh environments, both enveloping and enveloped by the artificial. Thick tall grass blows wildly on a riverbank; green branches grow in an infinite variety of shapes; the surface of a pond implies the soft, warm mud germinating and spawning beneath it; a profusion of flowers insist, their vivid colors almost suffocating and intoxicating.

In the vicinity of all this vigorous life, we find also other signs of life, that is, signs of the inanimate: small rusty factory buildings; junk scattering the fields; pale grey telephone and electrical poles fading in the air; lonesome modern architecture standing awkwardly in the emptiness of an open space. In these landscapes, the boundary between the animate and the inanimate is blurred – both possess a kind of life, the signs of lives which coexist in this environment. We find their signs everywhere, even in a polluted dark river or a deserted warehouse.

The complexity of our world is visible in this coexistence presented in Seino’s photographs, in this strange harmony between the natural and the artificial, a precarious harmony that is a result of the introduction of human activities and artifice into the landscape. By an author who has absorbed Western principles and mixed them with her knowledge of Japanese precepts, and who is now seeking a new visual form of discussion. (Asako Imaeda)

The exhibition was curated by Urs Stahel.