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Noguchi Rika


6 June — 18 July 2004

This was the first solo exhibition of work in the UK by Japanese artist Noguchi Rika. Consisting of three photographic series, it exemplified the artist’s distinct vision of our world as an alien place. Significantly Noguchi does not manipulate her images, either through direction of her subjects or through darkroom processes, insisting that what she photographs actually happens: ‘I wish to photograph the truth … to find new ways of looking at the earth’.

In Seeing Birds there are kite-fliers by the sea, little figures against the broad horizontal bands of ground, sea and sky. They convey the appeal of flight for terrestrial beings, the universally shared acknowledgement that higher atmospheres are not our natural habitat whilst being a realm of our desire.
Noguchi’s most recent series to date, About the World Below Zero, puts human beings very much in the foreground. During a trip she made to Beijing in the winter of 2001-2002, she met the Liminghui, a team of men and women who swim together in freezing conditions. Her photographs depict them in the setting of a muddy lake, modest and noble in their various shapes and sizes as they test the limits of what is physically possible.

By contrast, Rocket Hill has no human presence in the landscape, only evidence of people having been there. It consists of ten large-scale digital c-print photographs taken in and around the Tanegashima Space Centre, an island complex from which NASDA, the Japanese Space Programme, launches nearly all of its flights. The idea of something heavenly, abstract and absolute, lies at the heart of this place.

Organised in collaboration with the Hara Museum, Tokyo, this exhibition was supported by The Japan Foundation.