Photograph,Video,Sound,Score Drawing and Text
2024 April 3rd ~ April 26th
＊ Open only Wed. Thur. and Fri 10am – 3pm
＊ Appointment Only
＊ The space is limited by only one person.
＊ Donation needed for entry
“Spirit and Symbol” Exhibition by Daisuke Yokoyama
In Japanese, the term for person, 人間 ningen, , is composed of two characters: ‘person’ and ‘between.’ Another way to read those two characters is: “hito no aida,” meaning the space between people.
I believe this phrase shows how Japanese people care more about the beauty of the nuances and impermanence that lie between the self and other, rather than adhering to dualism between self and other. The focus on these nuances and on impermanence is influenced by the Buddhist philosophy that “all phenomena, time, and space exist and manifest through the relationship of all things and connections.” From this, one could argue that “nothing is certain, everything exists as impermanent,” and thus “everything is emptiness, and reality appears as if a screen from one’s own mind.” Expressing things as words, symbols, or images renders them impermanent. One own’s perceptions are ultimately uncertain. And while the relationships and connections we rely on bind us to the world around us, ultimately it is important to transcend our own individual worldview.
Words and images may not represent truth, but one could say that the voice is a chant emanating from the body. Whether or not a person has an intention to communicate something, each person emits sounds from their body, in various pitches and wavelengths, even if meaningless. We all have different embodied experiences, which results in us experiencing society differently, and trying to express ourselves in society differently. Our understanding of the truth too, becomes different, and thus our corporeal communication with each other is profoundly influenced by our differences, and may not be successful. Beyond corporeal communication, words and images too lack substance. There is also a loneliness arising from the fact that there needs to be reconciliation between others of differences to seek mutual recognition that must be acknowledged. The mujo (impermanence) of the world is such that what must be conveyed is not able to be conveyed, and it is an inevitable truth that things do not go as planned.
There is a parable called the Flower sermon, Nengemishō, literally “pick up flower, subtle smile,” wherein the Buddha simply holds up a lotus flower to his disciples and asks if they understood. One disciple answers, “Yes,” and it is said that Buddha smiled knowingly.
Approaching such stories with logic probably makes them beyond comprehension. However, there are questions and answers unique to Buddhism, which teaches through resonating with the heart. This might be a discussion between the spiritual essences of bodies. In other words, true understanding cannot be communicated through words or images, but through discussion between spiritual essences, between spirits. There is no one truth and individual perceptions therefore are also impermanent.
Daisuke Yokoyama is a portrait photographer who stutters. His style is neither dramatically expressive nor does it strive to discern the characteristics of the subjects. His ultimate objective is not solely results. Yokoyama ends up capturing the anxieties that appear in the psychological state of two people trying to overcome stuttering in a conversation. Yet, he approaches this moment with a humble attitude of “I am here because you are here.”
縁起 Engi means that everything arises from conditions, that nothing arises out of nothing, and that there is always interdependency. This means that phenomena arise for the self and other interdependently. Thus, Yokoyama’s approach becomes understandable. Will you accept this person—Yokoyama—or not? His portraits start to become self-portraits because they contain the person’s interactions with Yokoyama. As a result of the acceptance of the causality of self and others, he entrusts his mind and body to the mechanism of photography. In his photographs, there is an aura—a spiritual mystery that cannot be expressed in words.
The spirit that gives birth to words and images goes beyond the physical and connects the self to the other to grasp the truth. I believe Yokoyama is someone seeking out that truth. In the current confusion and darkness arising from AI, it may be raw effort and the spirituality of the body itself that must be preserved. The sensorial, which arises from the physical, is delicately transmitted between the self and other. Perhaps Yokoyama is trying to go beyond the repetition of question and answer between self and other. Acquiring spirituality through the accumulation of sensory knowledge is far more human than words or symbols. This might be proof of our humanity—that our fundamental humanness arises from our we perceive the world as individuals. There lies the fragile interconnection between physicality and representation.
The sharing of spiritual essences, of embodied knowledge illustrates the emptiness of this world and that it is impossible to tell the truth from a materialist perspective. The ego creates the void, and the void creates ego. With this exhibit, we are placed at the entrance of this labyrinth. Our lives are fleeting and we must accept that we are not isolated individuals. Everything begins with accepting reality and returning to the void. Yet, it is in the spirit between self and others that we can see the beauty of human activity. Truth is veiled in that beauty.
Born in Hyogo Prefecture in 1982.
Graduated from the Faculty of Letters, Department of Cultural History, Doshisha University in 2005. In the same year, he attended a course at the University for Photo Expression.
Yokoyama has a stutter, and that has prompted his exploration of the nature of communication, and connection between the self and other, through portrait photography. Recently he has focused on how the “voice” arises from the body and has created by photographic and video projects on the topic.
Recent major exhibitions include “Etude on the Word That Touches the Body” at VISUAL ARTS GALLERY (Osaka 2023, solo exhibition), “Floating in the Distance” at VOU / Bō (Kyoto 2023), “Distance of Mind” at Kūrenbō (Tokyo 2023), “I Hear You” at kanzan gallery (Tokyo 2022, solo exhibition), “Bind” at KG+SQUARE by Chushin (Kyoto 2021, solo exhibition), among others.