Report on the 2017 (40th public invitation)
Public Grand Prize Selection Meeting

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Hana Sawada
“Gesture of Rally #1705”

This work is a fruitless rally revolving around unidentifiable objects. There’s no conclusion to this game. Answers hang in midair, and all that repeats is just the misinterpretation of images.

I got the idea for the title from Blow-Up, a movie directed by Michelangelo Antonioni. In the movie’s final scene, the main character, a fashion photographer, looks on as two young people mime a tennis match. The phase “Gesture of Rally” came to me from this scene. Just as the main character in the movie discovers the photos he has taken appear to show a dead body, I, too, have taken it upon myself to unearth incidents in photos. What I found were unidentifiable objects with an inscrutable nature.

The photos I selected came from secondhand books that had been compiled and interpreted to make them easily understood. The unidentifiable objects captured in these photos had been either processed or ignored as if they are nothing — like so much noise. I attempted to raise and reclaim these objects that no one pays attention to.

I magnified the photos many times to better observe these objects, but the objects just turned into lumps of dots. The photos gave up very limited information and I soon hit a dead end. So, I analyzed them and deduced their meaning by switching between media formats while adding in my own information. My deductions were supported by the inherent photographic proof that the objects had, in fact, been there. Today, when processing and correcting digital photos is a common practice, photogenic proof may seem old-fashioned. Still, I carried on with my game, taking the position that I would deliberately and whole-heartedly trust that the photos were telling the truth.

People often get uncomfortable or anxious when they can’t immediately distinguish or comprehend unidentifiable things like these objects. But I didn’t want to make things black and white right away or remove them. I wanted to seize a single fragment, ponder it, and imagine it. I wanted to contemplate the stance of not deriving a definitive answer, of leaving things ambiguous and grey, of not forcing out a solution.

The root of this idea is repeated analyses and verifications of the unidentifiable objects and the questioning of our recognition of what the photos contain. The photos in this collection function as evidence that the objects did exist at that time in that place, and at the same time they function as devices that draw out endless approximations. And this work itself is a contraption, connecting things in the past to the present and linking the present to the future beyond.


Judges’s Comment

Sandra Phillips

I listened to your presentation with great interest. I think the ambition and aims appearing in this work are wonderful. That it challenges conventional thinking is magnificent. This is both photography and conceptual art at the same time. This is where the ideas of Antonioni’s films also come into play. This work presents modesty on one hand and audacious experimentation on the other.

The attention to detail is amazing. The broad perspective on your work — that there is ambiguity as you look closely at tiny objects — is very provocative.


Judges’s Comment

Minoru Shimizu

This well organized and thoroughly thought out work is plain in appearance but succeeds as an installation. The only drawback is the work may not communicate well unless the viewer comes in a step closer. For example, if there were a clear starting point for the game — that there are strange things in these photos — much like a field guide says “this is such and such” — people would then approach and better experience the entertainment of this work. The work is a little weak at encouraging people to make that first step. Having said that, I think it is a successful installation.

Quite a few artists use found photos. Do you place yourself in the lineage of such artists?

(Hana Sawada)
I think what I’m doing is a little different from found photos, like those of Yuki Kimura. I generally use photos from commercial books that have descriptions, so that I already know how to interpret them.



  • Kanako Shokuda

    “Tiny Tenderness”

  • 214

    “The collection of encounters”

  • Ai Mizobuchi


  • Hana Sawada

    “Gesture of Rally #1705”

  • Trond Ansten & Benjamin Breitkopf

    “17 toner hvitt”

  • Azusa Yamaguchi

    “me and my grandfather”

  • Giancarlo Shibayama

    “I traveled on an island”