The Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) has unveiled its latest special exhibition centred on Japanese culture and craftsmanship. The double-bill exhibition, titled Life in Edo | Russel Wong in Kyoto runs from 16 April to 19 September 2021.
The exhibition explores Japanese art and culture through woodblock prints and photography. Both mediums are used to tell stories of traditional and contemporary Japan.
The woodblock prints section looks at lifestyles and trends of Edo period Japan (1603- 1868). It showcases, amongst others, people’s travels, ideas on beauty, pets, food, and entertainment. The other component explores the beauty of nature and architecture of Kyoto today. It also captures the vanishing traditions of the geisha community through the lens of Singaporean photographer Russel Wong.
An Inside Look At Japanese Life & Culture
The showcase, in collaboration with Kobe Shimbun and Russel Wong, features two parts. Both spotlighting different periods, and themes of Japan. Life in Edo, focuses on the lifestyles and trends of the Edo period, often thought of as the final period of traditional Japan – through a display of Japanese woodblock prints.
Meanwhile, Russel Wong in Kyoto explores the beauty of nature and architecture in present-day Kyoto, the old imperial capital. The photographer also explores the vanishing traditions of the geisha (or “geiko”, as they are called in Kyoto).
The exhibition takes a winding path through the two sections but intersects in a contemplative space between that contrasting ukiyo-e artist Utagawa Hiroshige’s woodblock print of a morning scene at Nihonbashi – the first stop in his well-loved series Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō – with Russel Wong’s photograph of the Sanjō Bridge, which is the final stop in the series.
This juxtaposition of past and present, both in medium and subject, seeks to prompt re-evaluation of lines drawn between traditional and contemporary. It also offers a reflection on how past trends and lifestyles can echo surprisingly vividly in today’s modern society.
In conjunction with the Life in Edo | Russel Wong in Kyoto exhibition, members of the public can look forward to several workshops and tours. This includes Japanese cultural workshops, curator tours, educational videos on Japanese food and art, as well as interactive activities on woodblock printing and photography, available both online and on-site. Admission charges to the exhibition apply.
(Images: Asian Civilisations Museum)