The Japanese Paradox *

The Japanese Paradox *

The Japanese Paradox
Argentic paper
17.8 x 24cm

Yky uses photography to symbolize urban resilience. His works are generally presented as diptychs, a series of two images (a stage 1 image and a stage 2 image) that combine to make one piece. The first photograph (stage 1) illustrats a hazard. This image is developed using a traditional chemical development technique employed in photographic darkrooms which fixes light and darks onto the photographic paper a permanent way. The second image (stage 2) is an image of that same hazard but produced using an iteration of the chemical development process that does not fix the lights and darks of the image in a permanent way causing them to forever change depending on the light in their environment. The stage 2 image is developed on silver photographic paper where some areas of paper are chemically treated with fixing or developer agents at given dilution and time, and some are not. As a result, when exposed to light the entire image continues to develop in a way that dependent on the brightness, the UV index, and the refraction angle of light on the paper. This unpredictable development due to a multi-parameter process mirrors the elements of urban change and resilience. In these works, light symbolizes the hazard.

Considering himself a “citizen artist” Yky came to photography as he was seeking a better way to communicate the risks, hazards, and needs of urban resilience. The entire basis of this work is that the images can never be stable. This recalls that the stability of an urban space, though resilient, can never be taken as granted.

The Japanese Paradox in particular makes reference to the The Great Wave off Kanagawa, a famous woodblock print from the artist Hokusai, thought to have been published sometime between 1829 and 1833, in the late Edo period. On his piece, Yky states:

The great wave of Hokusai should be understood for its symbolic meaning, as almighty nature. The first picture presents an appropriate equilibrium between nature, human faith, and urban hazards. The second image questions the readiness to disaster risk with urban life being washed over by the wave. What does readiness look like?

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*Yky is an emerging artist, this exhibition is his first international show.


Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, FR