Inexpressible Perfection, Japan’s Photography 1860-1910.
Between October 23 2010 and February 27 2011, Lugano prepared another remarkable exposition about Japan in Villa Ciani, curated by Francesco Paolo Campione, Director of the Lugano Museo delle Culture and by the famous specialist of Ukiyo-e paintings, Marco Fagioli.
Around 200 photographs of Japanese daily life and landscapes, divided by subjects, were displayed in Villa Ciani, a beautiful mansion built in Parco Ciani a relaxing garden that embraces part of the lake.
Some of the pictures are very well-known, they recall the image of Japan Westernes usually bear in mind, and anyone can find them in many books about Japanese art.
Visitors can feel those sensations pervading Tokyo at the beginning of Meiji era (1867-1912), also called the Restoration.
I found very interesting the section about the techniques of impressing a picture on a film using acids, soda and albumin.
For those who are fond of Japan and already know pretty well the society and the history of this beautiful country, I can affirm that the exposition had a flaw:
Dividing the sections in “Women”, “Samurai”, “Commerciants” and so on, I believe it feeds the audience with useless stereotypes of Japan. Some scholars are very close to think of the world incarcerated in inflexible cathegories, but I have to stress the fact that society, especially after the Meiji Restoration (1867), was changing rapidly breaking the strata of the social classes on every level.
A part from this, I think this exposition, as an introduction to the other three organized by Lugano cityhall, was a nice intro for people who are approaching Japan for the first time.