Miho Kajioka in #47 Mizu:
“Water makes the world look more beautiful by reflecting the reality on it, less clear but more poetic. I wish I could live there instead.
Maybe what I have been trying to do with my camera is very close to what water does.”
- Miho Kajioka, June 2021
Miho Kajioka (b. 1973, Japan, lives in Kyoto) studied fine art in the United States and Canada and started her career as a journalist in her native country Japan. It was after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that Kajioka was reconnected to her photographic art. Two months after the disaster, while reporting in the coastal city of Kamaishi, where over 800 people died, she found roses blooming beside a blasted building. That mixture of grace and ruin made her think of a Japanese poem:
In the spring, cherry blossoms,
In the summer the cuckoo,
In autumn the moon, and in
Winter the snow, clear, cold.
Written by the Zen monk Dogen, the poem describes the fleeting, fragile beauty of the changing seasons. The roses Kajioka saw in Kamaishi bloomed simply because it was spring. That beautiful and uncomplicated statement, made by roses in the midst of ruin, impressed her, and returned her to photography.
The photos presented, span Kajioka's adulthood, including pictures she took while living abroad, as well as scenes she captured in Japan after the disaster. The little pictures of a flower, or a running boy, are scenes from daily life, as it is. These fragments of her life, from various periods and against changing backdrops, are not so different from each other, and the differences that remain aren't important. Happiness, sadness, beauty and tragedy only exist in our minds. Things are just as they are.
Kajioka's artistic practice is in principal snapshot based; she carries her camera everywhere and intuitively takes photos of whatever she finds interesting. These collected images serve as the basic material for her work in the darkroom where she creates her poetic and suggestive image-objects through elaborate, alternative printing methods. Kajioka regards herself more as a painter/drawer than as a photographer. She feels that photographic techniques help her to create works that fully express her artistic vision. Her images evoke a sense of mystery in her constant search for beauty. The focused, creative and respectful way in which she uses the medium of photography to creating her works seems to fit in the tradition of Japanese art that is characterized by the specifically Japanese sense of beauty, wabi sabi.
In her series 'so it goes', Kajioka presents works relating to the concepts of time, memory and place. As in her previous works, ‘so it goes’ reveals intuitive images of fragments of daily life at different times. It was while reading Kurt Vonnegut's novel, ‘Slaughterhouse-five’, that Kajioka became really interested in this subject. Kajioka has long been fascinated by the chronology and meaning of events. According to her, photography captures moments and freezes them; printing impressions is like playing with the sense of time and getting lost in its timeline.
Since 2013 Kajioka's work has been exhibited in France, the Netherlands, Colombia, the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany and Spain. Kajioka's book 'so it goes', co-published by the (M)éditions and IBASHO, was awarded the 'Prix Nadar' in 2019.