Metropolis Magazine
Issue #805 - Friday, Aug 28th, 2009
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Past Issues

801: Paul Gaugin
799: Visual Deception
797: Bones
795: Neoteny vs. Micropop
793: Ryusei Kishida
791: Matisse & His Circles
789: Osamu Tezuka
787: Louvre Exhibitions
785: Artist File 2009
783: Meditating Mark Rothko
781: Springtime of Russian Avant-garde
779: Arts & Crafts from Morris to Mingei
777: Matazo Kayama
775: Twelve Travels
773: Fuchu Biennial
769: Leonard Foujita
767: Andrew Wyeth
765: Tokyo in the 1930s
763: Treasures by Rinpa Masters
761: Yokohama Triennale 2008
759: Vermeer & The Delft Style
757: John Everett Millais
755: Avant Garde China
753: The Railway Museum
751: Parallel Worlds
749: George Raab: Canadian Wilderness Etchings
743: Daido Moriyama
741: Bauhaus Experience, Dessau
739: The Perry & Harris Exhibition
737: The House
735: XXIst Century Man
733: Kaii Higashiyama
731: Three Weeks of Art Celebration
729: Fashion + Art
727: New Horizons: The Collection of the Ishibashi Foundation
725: Yokoyama and Toulouse-Lautrec
723: Goth: Reality of the Departed World
721: Genesis Art Lounge
717: Tatsuya Matsui: Flower Robotics
715: Space for Your Future: Recombining the DNA of Art and Design
713: MoMA Design Store + Gallery White Room Tokyo
711: Roppongi Crossing 2007: Future Beats in Japanese Contemporary Art
709: Daikanyama Installation 2007
707: Nippon to Asobo
705: Marina Kappos at Tokyo Wonder Site
703: African-American Quilts: Women Piecing Memories and Dreams
701: Kids Earth Fund
699: The Mural Art of Kotohira-gu Shrine: Okyo, Jakuchu and Gantai
697: "Ayakashi" and "Odilon Redon"
695: Architects Around Town
693: Chocolate
691: My Civilization: Grayson Perry
689: Henry Darger: A Story of Girls At War-of Paradise Dreamed
687: Taisho Chic: Japanese Modernity, Nostalgia and Deco
685: Marlene Dumas: Broken White
683: The Mind of Leonardo: The Universal Genius at Work
681: Suntory Museum of Art and 21_21 Design Sight
679: Art Fair Tokyo 2007
677: Gregory Colbert: Ashes and Snow
675: The Door into Summer: The Age of Micropop
673: World of Kojima Usui Collection
671: Keeping TABs
669: The National Art Center, Tokyo
667: New Year's Preview
665: Jason Teraoka: Neighbors
663: The 3rd Fuchu Biennale: On Beauty and Value
661: Bill Viola: Hatsu-Yume (First Dream)
659: Shinro Ohtake Zen-Kei
657: Prism: Contemporary Australian Art
655: The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium Exhibition
653: Luisa Lambri
651: Modern Paradise
649: The Legend of Ultraman
647: Nihonga Painting: Six Provocative Artists
645: Echigo-Tsumari Triennial
643: Art Communication = Open!
641: YOROYORON: Tabaimo
639: Africa Remix
637: Mashcomix
635: Move On Asia and Hitoshi Nishiyama's White Out
633: A Passion for Plants
631: Chikaku: Time and Memory in Japan
629: A Sense of You, Created by Me
627: Beautiful Cities in Dreams
626: 77 Million
625: No Border
623: The 9th Annual Taro Okamoto Memorial Award for Contemporary Art
621: Tokyo-Berlin/Berlin-Tokyo
619: Conversation With Art, On Art
617: Olafur Eliasson: Your light shadow
613: Mayumi Terada: New Works
611: Gerhard Richter: New Works
609: Hokusai
607: Stephan Balkenhol: Skulpturen und Reliefs
605: International Triennale of Contemporary Art 2005
603: CWAJ 50 Years of Print Show
601: Hiroshi Sugimoto: End of Time
599: Shinji Ohmaki: Echoes-Infinity
597: Miwa Yanagi
596: Cubism in Asia: Unbounded Dialogues
595: Canada Tsuga: The Feeling of Wood
594: Laurie Anderson: The Record of the Time
593: Today's artists X: Nishimura Morio/Matsumoto Yoko
592: Masaaki Yamada
591: Follow me!
590: Daido Moriyama: Buenos Aires
589: Mutsuro Sasaki: Flux Structure
588: Shinro Ohtake
587: Masterpieces of the Louvre Museum
586: Tabaimo: Yubibira
585: Yasumasa Morimura: Los Nuevos Caprichos
584: Julian Opie: Films and Paintings
583: Masterpieces of the museum island
582: The Elegance of Silence
581: Tapies
580: The world is a stage: Stories behind pictures
579: Shigejiro Sano At Play in the Esprit of Paris
578: The Body: Hitoshi Abe
577: Tenshin Okakura: The Awakening of Japan
576: Contemporary Spanish Photography: Ten Views
575:Taro Okamoto Memorial Award
574: Takeshi Tamai: Till Moss Grows On
573: Laura Owens
572: Alphonse Mucha: Treasures Of The Mucha Foundation
571: “Welcome, Welcome” Art-Beijing-Contemporary
570: The hidden side of Japanese art
569: Art Scope 2004: Cityscape Into Art—Michiko Shoji + Johannes Wohnseifer
568: Life Actually
567: Traces: Body and Idea in Contemporary Art
566: Mirrorical Returns: Marcel Duchamp and the 20th Century Art
565: Archilab: New Experiments In Architecture, Art and the City, 1950-2005
564: The Second Annual Fuchu Biennale
563: Have We Met?
561-2: Fluxus: Art Into Life
560: Christopher Wool
559: Pop Art and co.
558: Art & Money
557: Art of the Japanese Postcard
556: Yayoi Kusama: Eternity-Modernity
555: Ihei Kimura: The Man with the Camera
554: Wolfgang Tillmans: Freischwimmer
553: Emerging Generation
552: Larry Clark: Punk Picasso
551: Cool & Light: New Spirit in Craft Making
550: Angelo Mangiarotti: Un Percorso
549: Endo Akiko: Poetry of an Everlasting Life
548: Paris and Klein
547: Yoshitomo Nara: From the Depth of My Drawer
546: Colors: Viktor & Rolf & KCI
545: Micro Presence & Macro Presence
544: Non-sect Radical: Contemporary Photography III
543: Pastoral and Flowers in Modern French Painting
542: Collapsing Histories: time, space and memory
541: Supernatural Artificial
540: Jiro Takamatsu: Universe of His Thought
539: The World Press Photo 2004
538: I Dreamt of Flying: Noguchi Rika
537: Man Ray Exhibition: The Gift of His Vision
536: Why Not Live For Art?
535: Brazil: Body Nostalgia
534: n_ext: New Generation of Media Artists
533: Empty Garden II
532: Street Art in Africa: A Color Commotion
531: Modern Crafts and Design from the Museum Collection: Art Deco
530: And or Versus? : Adventures in Images
529: Modern Means
528: Remaking Modernism in Japan 1900-2000
527: Treasures of a Sacred Mountain: Kukai and Mount Koya
526: Jan Jansen: Master of Shoe Design
525: Yasuo Kuniyoshi: Between Two Worlds
524: Beyond The Border: Seung H-Sang and Yung Ho Chnag
523: Testimony of Life: Ancient Roman Portraits from the Vatican Museums
522: I Love Art
521: "My" Siberia and "My" Earth: The 30 Year Memorial Retrospective Exhibition of Yasuo Kazuki
520: Time of My Life: Art with a Youthful Spirit
519: Joy of Life: Two Photographers from Africa-JD 'Okhai Ojeikere and Malick Sidibé
518: Roppongi Crossing: New Visions in Japanese Art 2004+Kusamatrix
517: Exposition Musee Marmottan Monet
516: Treasures of a Great Zen Temple: Nanzenji
515: Johannes Itten: Ways to Art
514: Meiji Kaigakan (Memorial Picture Gallery)
513: Kaii Higashiyama: One Man's Path
512: Future Cinema: The Cinematic Imaginary after Film
511: Yasujiro Ozu: Japanese Film Master
509/10: End-of-the-year review and 2004 preview
508: Surface tension
507: Jean Nouvel
506: Makoto Aida: My Ken Ten
505: Gaudi: Exploring Form
504: Ino Tadataka and Old Maps of Japan/Fusuma Paintings of Jukoin
503: Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum
502: Happiness: A Survival Guide for Art and Life
501: Today's Man
500: Taro Shinoda: Helicopter 1

Issues 499-
Issues 449-
Issues 399-
By C.B. Liddell

Privilege
Behold, the English teacher!

Digital photograph of British man, Saitama
Images by Gary Mcleod

Usually when I write about art, it is as an external observer. But thanks to photographer/artist Gary Mcleod’s Privilege project, I had a chance to see things from the other side. This is because Mcleod has set himself the laudable goal of documenting Japan’s foreign English teachers, a category to which both he and I still happen to belong.

“You’re number 90 and I’m number 19,” he tells me when I show up for my photo shoot in a backroom at the Berlitz language school in Ueno. “When I get to 100, I’ll stop.”

Mcleod does more than simply snap pictures of people who get paid for knowing the difference between “L” and “R.” Behind the simple act of photographing—which I find out isn’t so simple—is a whole history, methodology and approach that draws interesting parallels and contrasts between 19th-century imperialism and 21st-century globalism. It also raises intriguing questions about perception, representation and objectivity.

The project’s inspiration came from the voyage of HMS Challenger, a scientific survey ship sent round the world from 1872 to 1876. One of the objectives of the expedition was to photograph the various “native races” encountered along the way, including, when the ship arrived here in 1875, the Japanese. Mcleod sees this part of the ship’s research as an expression of imperialist taxonomy.

“I suspect that it was actually to confirm the empire’s significance around the world and to show British people that this is what the empire is,” he says.

By substituting English teachers for the Challenger’s “native races,” Mcleod achieves two things. First, he is able to photograph a wide array of people from around the world without circumnavigating the globe; and, second, he is able to suggest ways in which imperialism and globalism are related. The same expansionary mercantile, colonial and imperial impulse that sent the Challenger on its way also created the Anglophone-dominated global system that has made it so necessary for a remote island inhabited by a formerly isolated “native race” to learn English.
Digital photograph of American man, Ueno

Emphasizing the links between the Challenger expedition and his own work, Mcleod uses a modern digital SLR camera body that he’s fitted with a 130-year-old lens. But instead of one click, he photographs his subjects using a tripod-controlled mapping technique, taking approximately 300 individual photos, which are then stitched together to make a composite image. The process, which takes around 45 minutes, makes the photographic experience more like sitting for a painting. The benefit, as I found out, is that the subject tends to relax and be more natural. During the process, Mcleod interviews his subjects, asking them questions that reveal his interest in the theory of nomadism formulated by the philosopher Vilem Flusser.

“Coming to Japan, and my whole experience of being here and talking to teachers, has shown me how nomadic we really are when we’re in Japan,” he says. But nomadism can also be a transitional stage for some.

“People who have been here a lot longer are a lot more settled,” he says. “They’ve got to the point where they just decide, ‘This is me, this where I’m going to be.’ From talking to them, I get the impression that they’ve actually left and then returned, knowing that Japan is the place for them.”

The results of Mcleod’s fascinating project can be seen this month at The Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan, followed by a show next month at the Zuishoji-Art-Projects gallery in Shirokanedai. At this exhibition, images of the teachers—including mine, no doubt—will be projected onto a white board accompanied by recordings made from the transcriptions of the interviews read out by Japanese language students. This last touch will show the degree to which the efforts of English teachers like Mcleod and myself have been successful.

Through August 28, The Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan. See exhibition listings (Ginza/Kyobashi/Tokyo) for details. Sep 17-23, Zuishoji-Art-Projects. See exhibition listings (other areas) for details. www.garymcleod.co.uk

Got something to say about this article? Send a letter to the editor at letters@metropolis.co.jp.

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