Ratio 3 is pleased to present 400 Polaroids, an exhibition of instant-film photographs by Nobuyoshi Araki and Daido Moriyama. For their first joint exhibition in nearly two decades, each artist has contributed two-hundred artworks, each individually enclosed in a custom-fitted display case and presented on narrow shelves throughout the gallery. 400 Polaroids comprises one of the most extensive surveys of Araki’s Polaroids to date, and the first presentation of Moriyama’s Polaroids outside of Japan.
Working primarily with analog film for over fifty years, Araki (b. 1940) and Moriyama (b. 1938) are widely recognized as foundational figures of postwar Japanese photography; each artist’s approach to image-making helped to define a photographic ethos that has remained influential in contemporary photography, both within Japan and internationally. Though their methods and sensibilities differ in many regards, Araki and Moriyama share an emphasis on the immediacy and intimacy of their images.
Polaroids have been an integral part of Araki’s practice for decades, functioning both as diaristic records of portraiture, still lifes, and nude figures, and as the basis for several experimental bodies of work, including the spliced images of his Arakiri and Polanography series. Polaroids have served a similar diaristic role for Moriyama, though he has taken a comparatively restrained approach to their presentation; in 2008, Moriyama mounted a single exhibition of his series bye-bye polaroid, a farewell homage prompted by the announcement that the Polaroid format would be discontinued later that year. Captured over a five-month period, Moriyama’s images offer a wistful, personal view of fleeting scenes from an ever-changing Tokyo.
Among the various photographic formats that Araki and Moriyama have used throughout their prolific careers, their Polaroids offer the clearest testament to the artists’ shared ethos of urgency; by the very nature of the medium, each photograph in the exhibition is a unique object, distinct in its ability to convey the impermanence and irreplicability of the moments they depict.