Visual, performance, and sound artist. Shoji Ueda, 1970s.

Visual, performance, and sound artist. Shoji Ueda, 1970s.

I first saw Ueda’s work in an exhibition called Japanese Photography: Today and Its Origins at the ICA in London in August 1979 and I bought the catalog. I believe Ueda’s works were originally shown in an exhibition called “Memories Without Sounds” in Tokyo in 1974, a phrase that stuck in the recesses of my consciousness.

This image and all of Ueda’s work brings to mind the novels of my favorite Japanese writer Haruki Murakami. It would be a mistake to confuse this image with the surreal, for it comes from a deeply Japanese sensibility. It suggests that the world is not as it appears, that the dimensions of reality are multifold, mysterious, and that existence itself is ephemeral. Unlike many photographs that convey a sense of time stopped and frozen, or of life in process, this image seems to exist dislocated from place and outside of time, but rather in the boundless space of memory and possibility. It is not presence that he captures, but an intangible absence, an ineffable stillness like an echo of silence. This image continues to resonate for me as much as the first time I saw it nearly 30 years ago, and it has inspired and influenced my work.

Jacki Apple, Visual, performance, and sound artist.

 

Further Reading