Narahara who had attributed his personal technique of representation as “personal documents,” carved the path for a new era in the history of Japanese photography through means of an original, comprehensive perspective. The exhibition will feature 15 works previously published in Europe: Where Time Has Stopped (1967), Narahara’s first photography book that serves as a personal record of the photographer’s travels in Europe from 1962-1965.
In August 1962, Narahara travelled to Paris in the wake of a request from a fashion magazine, initially planning his visit for three months. However, Narahara who had marked a brilliant debut with his much acclaimed solo exhibition “Human Land” in 1956, had been engrossed in an overwhelmingly active schedule since the start of his career as a ‘photographer.’ Thus in this respect, Europe had granted Narahara’s desire to distance himself from his past environment and glimpse into another world, essentially becoming a place that allowed the photographer to indulge in his own thoughts.
In the Luxembourg Park lovers walked silently, arm in arm, on the boulevard lined by marronniers, their heavy leaves turning yellow; lovers in their twenties were followed by men and women in their thirties, who in their turn were followed by couples in their fifties. The lovers, young and old, walking arm in arm, appeared and then disappeared as if they were a flow of similar geometric figures. I thought I was seeing the whole cycle of man’s life within less than ten minutes. And I thought of the moment of death that would come after they walked away. (…) The lovers who appeared and disappeared in silence seemed outside time. It was as if the figures of photographs had drawn near me for a moment, and then retreated into their own motionless eternity. Such a great moment of revival I called “the moment when time has stopped.” It was a moment pregnant with uncertain premonition; neither “sorrow” nor “loneliness” was the proper word to describe that moment.
Ikko Narahara, “the sky in my hands”, Europe: Where Time Has Stopped, Kajima publishing, 1967, pp. 186-187
Narahara had placed himself in spaces formulated through modes different to that of Japanese sensibility from conclusive realms of the highly artificial, to architectural structures that reflect the culmination of history, as well as the lives that unfold within these contexts. While bearing a strong awareness towards the death as a mere temporary form of existence and the time that elapsed before his eyes, Narahara had initially spent almost half a year consistently travelling throughout various countries. As his life in Europe proceeded to merge with his internal image of Europe, both Narahara’s eyes and interests had gradually begun to shift from the inside towards the outside. Narahara drove an extensive 47,000 kilometers across the continent on his cherished Sunbeam Alpine, and as if framing fragments of Europe, had captured the various moments of his intimate encounters through an array of photographs. The results were first published in Asahi Camera in 1964 under the title of “Europe 64”, and were presented in Camera Mainichi as “Where Time Has Stopped.” These series of works that were later compiled akin to a poetic anthology and published in 1967 as,Europe: Where Time Has Stopped, earned Narahara the Photographer of the Year Award from the Japan Photo Critics Association, the Ministry of Education Science and Culture’s Art Encouragement Prize, and the Mainichi Art Award.
The production of this first photography book which Narahara himself refers to as “his monologue on Europe,” had evoked in him the spirit of “holding the sky in his hands again.” However, despite occupying an important position within the milieu of his practice, a presentation consisting solely of “Where Time Has Stopped” has previously only been held on the occasion of Narahara’s solo exhibition at Shadai Gallery in 1975. The current exhibition serves to introduce an essential factor of photographer Ikko Narahara’s extensive oeuvre.