KOTARO NUKAGA is pleased to present Gold Rush California/NZ, an exhibition of new work by Gentaro Ishizuka. The show will open on July 11 and remain on view through August 29, 2020.
Ishizuka has been traveling around the world since his teenage years, shooting landscapes in polar regions with a large-format film camera. Motifs captured from the scenes convey poetic sensibility, thus the way he merges the border between art and documentary is termed “conceptual documentary.”
In this exhibition, Ishizuka focused on one theme: the gold rush. Its history began in the state of California in 1848, when people lured by the dream of striking a gold mine scrambled to the state, drastically changing the American economy and demography as a result. Later on, ambitious frontiers who sought to make a fortune traveled all over the world, altering landscapes as they explored their way.
During the journey of shooting pipelines and glaciers in Alaska, Ishizuka learned that there were traces of the gold rush — for instance, roads and cities where gold miners constructed – and realized there was a whole another layer of history in the land. In 2011, his quest for the gold rush began in Alaska. He then explored California, the epicenter of the gold rush, and New Zealand, approaching the event from different times and locations.
Unlike mountain ranges and rivers that remained unchanged for over 150 years, the cities flourished in the Gold Rush era became deserted, now abandoned ruins and remnants of the past. Corroded cabins and dust-covered cups and plates still left on a table show glimpses of the life of gold miners, and how much time has passed since they dwelled in that place. The word “gold rush” merely describes a historical phenomenon, but there are traces of people living every day trying to acclimate to a new environment. Through photography, Ishizuka unravels multiple layers of stories within the historical topic and attempts to capture the sensation of looking at history with a new perspective.
Ishizuka awakens the viewer’s eyes by carefully adjusting the lens focus, which can be achieved because of the large-format camera such as 4 x 5 and 8 x 10. He manipulates time and space of sceneries that the largely-printed images become something unreal, leading viewers to gaze deeper. Such an effect is one of the reasons why Ishizuka carries heavily-loaded equipment to distant places.
Remnants of once-crazed gold rush portray how powerful and transient dreams can be, and the unchanging nature of human deeds. What can be found from a relic of the past when viewed from the present time? With a fresh perspective in mind, this exhibition offers an opportunity to imagine the unseen layers of history, time, and space, and also to envision each person’s life in it.