Daido Moriyama

Hokkaido

About this artwork

The island of Hokkaido in northern Japan captured Moriyama's imagination from an early age. In the years following World War II, travel across Japan was prohibited. For the young Moriyama, then, Hokkaido was a source of intrigue. Eventually able to travel and photograph there in the 1960s, it was not until 1978 that he did his most intensive work on the island; in three months he shot 250 rolls of film, producing almost 2000 photographs. He captured everyday life in rural society: landscapes, street scenes, portraits, animals. For 30 years the prints lay untouched until Moriyama began to process them, producing a photobook (2008) and this work, an immersive slide installation shown as a digital projection. For Moriyama, a photograph is ‘a fossil of light and time’. This definition takes on a particular poignance in view of the decades-long interval between when these images were taken and their now digital presentation. The artist has also described his practice as a means by which he can retrace his steps and confront his memories. Photographed at a time when Moriyama was experiencing depression, the Hokkaido images are reflective and intermittently melancholic. When compared with the frenetic energy of his crowded metropolitan photographs, the remote location and open spaces of Hokkaido evoke loneliness and isolation. With keen attention to light, shadow and form, the series displays Moriyama’s signature use of high contrast and a grainy aesthetic. It likewise incorporates tilted camera angles and tight cropping – other typical features of the artist’s work.

Updated before 2020

  • artist:
  • title:
    Hokkaido
  • date created:
    1979, produced 2017
  • materials:
    Digital slide projection
  • measurements:
    15 min; 45 sec (running time)
  • object type:
  • credit line:
    ARTIST ROOMS National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Presented by the artist and acquired with assistance of the ARTIST ROOMS Fund, supported by the Henry Moore Foundation and Tate Members 2017
  • accession number:
    AR01264
  • gallery:
This artwork is part of Artist Rooms
Does this text contain inaccurate information or language that you feel we should improve or change? Tell us what you think.

Daido Moriyama

Daido Moriyama