Artificial Japan – Photographs of the Yokohama School. 1860-1910

WOPART, Lugano, Centro Esposizioni, 18th-21st of November 2021

A fine selection of Japanese albumen photographs from the Ada Ceschin and Rosanna Pilone Foundation in Zurich, deposited at MUSEC in Lugano, are exhibited for the first time at WOPART.

Produced in Japan by European and local photographers between the second half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, these photographs, skilfully hand-painted, were the subject of a market aimed at foreigners visiting the Archipelago, a market created essentially to satisfy the exotic taste of travellers. The pictures, in fact, illustrate a world artfully recreated in the photographic studios of the time. Geisha, kendoka, sumo wrestlers, kabuki actors and samurai, to name but a few, presented Westerners with an ideal and aesthetic vision of Japan: a world with an ancient flavour that in reality was fast disappearing under the influence of modernisation and westernisation. The images on display propose a reality for the use and consumption of a Western audience and, at the same time, recreate the ‘little old world’ of traditional Japan, already gone at the time.