The Art Institute Chicago

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press release

Tokihiro Sato’s images embody presence and absence, materiality and spirituality. Using an eight-by-ten-inch camera set on a tripod, he makes lengthy exposures in which he enters the frame of the landscape, waving around a flashlight (by night) or pausing periodically with a mirror that reflects sunlight back at the camera (by day). These brighter lights are recorded as traces of his presence, but he himself is rendered invisible by his motion during the course of the hour-long exposure. The contemplative and somewhat otherworldly pictures that result are literally "photo-graphs," a term derived from the Greek words for light and drawing. Sato’s preferred presentation of his photographs is as unusual as his method of making pictures. He floats large-scale transparencies in front of a panel fitted with lights, so that the edge of the photograph is readily visible. In this way, the viewer is reminded that photographs are objects as well as images, that the paper itself possesses a kind of sculptural quality. Lit from behind, the images themselves glow just as the evidence of Sato’s presence does in the pictures.

While Sato has exhibited widely in Japan, and is beginning to get more regocnition in the U.S., his photographs have never been been shown in Chicago. Photo-Respiration: Tokihiro Sato Photographs showcases 14 transparencies in an elegant installation that surveys the best work from this series. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue, one of the few resources in English on this important and innovative artist.


Photo-Respiration: Tokihiro Sato Photographs
Kurator: Elizabeth Siegel