October 2017 Artist in Residence: Noritaka Minami


This month we are welcoming Noritaka Minami as our artist-in-residence!

Noritaka Minami is an artist based in Chicago, Illinois.  He graduated from University of California, Berkeley in 2004 with a BA in Art Practice and graduated from University of California, Irvine in 2011 with an MFA in Studio Art.  Minami is currently an Assistant Professor of Photography at Loyola University Chicago.  He has also taught at Harvard University, Wellesley College, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, University of California, Berkeley, and University of California, Irvine.  He is a recipient of grants from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, and the Durfee Foundation.  In 2015, he published a monograph titled “1972 – Nakagin Capsule Tower” (Kehrer Verlag), which received the 2015 Architectural Book Award from the Deutsches Architekturmuseum in Frankfurt, Germany.  Minami’s works are held in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago. His forthcoming solo exhibition will open at Kana Kawanishi Gallery in Tokyo, Japan in April 2018.

View more of Noritaka's work through his website: http://www.noritakaminami.com

Read our Q & A with Noritaka to get some insight into his practice!

Why do you find it valuable to create work and why specifically in photography?

I’m interested in one of the basic premises of why people use the photographic medium, outside the context of “art”, as a type of starting point. People take pictures to address this desire to capture a scene in front of them as visual record that could be preserved into the future. This act of taking a picture supposedly gives something a form of “permanence” not attainable in reality. This aspect of photography is probably pertinent to why I’m interested in using the medium to examine specific examples of architecture that face the possibility of disappearance and reflect on the significance of that loss. I’m also interested in historical examples of practices that were based on the idea capturing the urban environment in states of transition.

The majority of your series focuses on buildings or of communities that had potential and then failed or never came to fruition. What draws you to these subjects and what do you hope to achieve as you continue to photograph them?

Both the Nakagin Capsule Tower and California City are similar in that they relied on architects and developers constructing a definitive image of a world to come and disseminating that image through the mass media. The presence of this image in the public consciousness was as important if not more important than the actual building or city that was being built. It is interesting to revisit these speculative projects today and examine the divide that exists between the image of the future that was thought to be possible at a certain moment in history and the image of the future that actually arrived in society after the end of twentieth century.

Has teaching helped your work progress? What things have you learned from your students that could be applied to your work?

As an educator, it is interesting to work now with a generation of students who have grown up with digital technology as their primary experience and understanding of the photographic medium.  At the same time, it is interesting to observe the sense of wonder and fascination some of these students hold for what's now called analog technology.  The fact that film and film cameras have become “outmoded” in contemporary culture allowed them to gain a new type of significance for the students currently attending Loyola University Chicago and taking classes in photography.  

What are you planning to work on during the residency?

I am hoping to learn how to make prints with the Piezography printer since I have never used this process before.  I will focus on works from the “California City, California” series to prepare for an exhibition that opens at Kana Kawanishi Gallery in Tokyo in Spring 2018 (www.kanakawanishi.com).  I will also edit some of the most recent images that were shot at the Nakagin Capsule Tower this past summer.

Are there any fun facts that you’d like to share with our community about yourself?

During my residency in October, I’d like to meet people and have conversations since I’m still relatively new to the city of Chicago. The last two years have been quite hectic in terms of travelling here and there when I wasn’t working on campus. I feel I still haven’t fully settled down in this city, so I view this residency as a valuable opportunity.

Are there any current movies, books, magazines, or podcasts that you recommend for people to check out about art and/or photography?

I recently saw a film called “Columbus” that was directed by a filmmaker named Kogonada. It’s a beautifully shot film, and people should check it out . I’ve read that he transitioned from being an academic to a filmmaker while writing a dissertation on the works of Yasujiro Ozu. I really recommend people watch the films of Ozu as they are remarkably subtle and moving at the same time.


AIR 2017Colleen Keihm