Yu Kusanagi was born in Akita Prefecture in 1982, and graduated from the Tohoku University of Art and Design in 2007. He has been exhibiting his photography since 2003, picking up several awards including one from Konica Minolta in 2003. Most recently, in the Fall of 2010 Kusanagi’s Snow series, from which the above photo comes, was an Honorable Mention selection by photographer Mika Ninagawa for the annual Canon Cosmos of Photography competition.
Last year marked the 20th annual “New Cosmos of Photography”, a competition started in 1991 by Canon Camera in an effort to identify young, emerging photographic artists deserving of our attention. Judged by a combination of working photographers and critics (Nobuyoshi Araki, Daido Moriyama, and Kotaro Iizawa are among those who have judged the competition in the past), this year saw 25 award winners from among 1,276 entrants in a competition judged by photographers Katsumi Omori, Masafumi Sanai, and Mika Ninagawa, and critics Minoru Shimizu and Noi Sawaragi (each judge chooses one Excellent Award winner and five Honorable Mentions).
The following gallery of images from Yu Kusanagi’s Snow (one of Ninagawa’s Honorable Mention picks) is our second gallery from the 2010 competition.
When we are looking at a photograph we are not looking at reality. We may not even look at a visual representation of reality. What we see is a photograph, an image realistic in appearance. That photograph’s objective is not to show reality to the viewer, but to construct an illusion of reality within the viewer by evocation of emotions by means of shapes, lightness, darkness and color. Even black and white photographs contain color, they are just not visible as such in the photograph.
Yu Kusanagi shows us abundantly beautiful snow. Falling from the clouds, freshly settled on houses, cars and electric poles. The visible onslaught of snow, the sheer quantities and somehow even vigor almost seem threatening, and in truth, they probably are. Yet, what is more peaceful in appearance than a world padded with soft, immaculate white?
The photographs do not let us feel the biting cold that the photographer had to bear when producing these images, even though it is clear that when seeing snow falling it has to be a cold night. The viewers perception might even be a warm and romantic sentiment. When we are looking at these photographs we are not even looking at a single common reality.