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HOJO|Mayumi Suzuki👁

from the series, HOJO 2020-2021 | archival pigment print ©︎ Mayumi Suzuki, courtesy KANA KAWANISHI GALLERY
photography exhibition

Mayumi Suzuki was born in 1977 in Onagawa City, Miyagi Prefecture, and currently lives and works in Zushi, Kanagawa Prefecture. After graduating, she worked as a freelance photographer, focusing on portraits. The Great East Japan Earthquake struck on March 11, 2011. Suzuki's hometown of Onagawa was destroyed by the tsunami and his parents lost their lives. Since then, she has often returned to her hometown to record the efforts of locals to emerge from the disaster. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Photography in the Department of Photography at Nihon University College of Art.

Suzuki's recent solo exhibitions include "The Restoration Will/The Place to Belong" (2018, Galeria Miejska Arsenał, Poznań, Poland), "The Restoration Will" (2018, SPAZIO LABO, Bologna, Italy), "The Restoration Will" (2017 , REMINDERS PHOTOGRAPHY STRONGHOLD, Tokyo).
Group exhibitions include KYOTOGRAPHIE “10/10 Celebrating Contemporary Japanese Women Photographers” (2022, HOSOO GALLERY, Kyoto), “Biennale de Photographie en Condroz” (2021, Belgium) and “Twilight Daylight Contemporary Japanese Photography vol.17” (2020, Tokyo Museum of Photographic Art, Tokyo).

Suzuki was awarded the best photography book of the year PHotoESPAÑA 2018 (2018, Spain) and was selected as the grand prize for the Photobox (2018, Italy), among others.

The first series of Mayumi Suzuki, The Restoration Will, was an intimate work in which the artist calmly accepted the events that had befallen him and his family following the Great East Japan Earthquake, and gently but bluntly raised his head to watch and move on. His next series, leaf, which means "fertility" in English, is also based on her own experiences. Today the artist Mayumi Suzuki presents this series at the KANA KAWANISHI PHOTOGRAPHY gallery.

Artist Mayumi Suzuki talks about this project

In Japanese, 豊穣 (HOJO) refers to abundant land or a good harvest. In English, it is usually translated as "fertility". In Japan, women are traditionally worshiped as goddesses of HOJO. The ideal being endowed with abundant harvests and many children were associated with it.

This project is based on my experience of in vitro fertilization (IVF), which I started at the age of 41. I try to acknowledge my existence as an "outlier". Photographing myself in the dark with a spotlight on me and an exposure of about 60 seconds gave me time to look at myself long and hard. At times, it reminded me of the anxious moments in the doctor's exam chair, the pain of egg retrieval, and the low anticipation of implantation. At other times, I felt a sense of calm.

The doctor uses 60 seconds to examine the patient on the examination chair. It doesn't take long to examine each woman. Many of them come to the clinic, one after the other. I had hoped to be examined more carefully. Coming home from the clinic, at the market, I found misshapen vegetables that had not been sold. They looked miserable, like my own inability to conceive. So I thought of photographing and handling each vegetable gently. For the process I use direct positive paper and work with a 4x5 inch camera. This method allows me to control the exposure to recreate the time of an examination in an IVF clinic.

I also used photos of fertilized eggs that I received from the clinic. These are raw, pixelated images. According to them, it is difficult to tell the difference between a fertilized egg that can allow you to get pregnant and one that does not. When you zoom in, it's just a point. If there is a factor in the hundreds of millions of cells in my body that is preventing me from conceiving, I need to look for that outlier. I remember endless barren lands.

Nowadays, women can choose how they want to live. But sometimes they have to accept a fate over which they have no control. Even if my own body isn't "fertile", I want to be proud of it because it's my life.

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Dates  February 18 to March 25, 2023
Exhibition title HOJO - Mayumi Suzuki

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