“Six years have passed since Lieko Shiga came to Miyagi Prefecture.” So begins our adventure into the photographer’s latest exhibition. After completing her highly acclaimed series “CANARY” in 2007, Shiga quietly ventured off into Kitakama, a remote part of Miyagi prefecture. Her goal was to not only photograph this isolated village – a population of about 320 – but to assimilate, converting from stranger to villager and in turn revealing the town’s hidden stories.
what one sees in Shiga’s works is not an auteur’s “answer” to telling the stories of Kitakama, but the revelation of Shiga’s ongoing engagement with the larger questions she asks herself: What is the nature of photography as a medium? And what is the nature of living and expressing oneself on land?
The fact that Shiga’s work was inclusive of the 3/11 earthquake and tsunami, rather than responsive to it, makes the photos all the more poignant and powerful. Shiga’s photographs – all 240 of them – were exhibited in a swirling pattern, allowing visitors to weave through them as they please. The exhibition was held at the Sendai Mediatheque, a structure designed by Toyo Ito and rendered symbolic when it withstood the earthquake.