Moscow international contemporary photography festival PHOTOBOOKFEST 2018 presents an exhibition «I, Oblomov» by a young photographer Ikuru Kuwajima (Japan/Russia).
«One morning, in a flat in one of the great buildings in Gorokhovaia Street, the population of which was sufficient to constitute that of a provincial town, there was lying in bed a gentleman named Ilya Ilyitch Oblomov»i
. With the very first line of the novel a Japanese documentary photographer Ikuru Kuwajima begins his journey in time and space in search of the key to the «mysterious Russian soul» and into the depths of his own night dreams.
The project called «I, Oblomov» both offers a photographic interpretation of Russian classics and attempts to discover a new cultural identity. In other words, Ikuru tells a story of himself and at the same time, all of us. This series of self-portraits, made to Japanese standards so scrupulously and precisely, is important not only because of the geographical spread of the photos (Kazan, Simferopol, Moscow, Kirov, Almaty, Kiev, Bishkek, Samara, Morki village etc.), but also thanks to the various very detailed spaces in which Ikuru Oblomov finds himself sleeping: spaces for introspection, solitude and thoughts about life and its frailty.
Self-portraits in modern photography are a remarkable phenomenon well worthy the attention. Take, for instance, Yasumasa Morimura who has a created a whole series of self-portraits reinterpreting the mass culture and the world history of art. Liu Bolin, on the other hand, paints himself into various settings, blending with them and thus highlighting the situation and surroundings.
Ikuru Kuwajima combines both the approaches to work with the self-portrait. He comments on the post-soviet "Oblomovshchina" (Oblomovism) putting himself inside it, but he also offers the viewer the possibility to take a fresh look at Goncharov's classical novel so familiar to many of us from school.
The exhibition features about 40 works from the «I, Oblomov» series and also includes Kuwajima's photobook of the same name in six variations of the pillow-like cover. The book was published in 2017 with support from PHOTOBOOKFEST.
The curator of the exhibition is Кaterina Zueva. About the Author
Ikuru Kuwajima studied journalism at the University of Missouri (Columbia, USA), for the last five years he has been actively travelling and working in Romania, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Russia. His works have been published in such magazines as «National Geographic», «Wired Magazine Photo Blog»,«Newsweek Japan», «Le Monde», «Russkiy Reporter» («The Russian Reporter»), «Marie Claire», «New York Times Lens Blog», «Forbes Magazine», «Guardian» and «Esquire Russia».
Kuwajima's works were shown at the Venice Biennale in the Central Asia pavilion (Italy, 2013), at the festival Noorderlicht «Metropolis – City Life in the Urban Age» (Holland, 2011), as part of the projects«The Mari. Research. / The Chuvash. Research» (the Triupmh gallery, Moscow, 2015), «Metageogrpahy»(the Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, 2015), «Every Day of the Winter» (Metenkov House Museum, Yekaterinburg, 2015 and many others.
Ikuru also actively works with the photobook format and his projects have received such international awards as «Kassel Dummy Award», «Self Publish Riga» and «Vienna Photobook Award», while the «I, Oblomov» project won the photobook dummy contest which was part of the PHOTOBOOKFEST 2017 festival.