held on July 1st - 8th, 2017
About PHOTO fest. KZ (international photo festival in Kazakhstan)…… The Republic of Kazakhstan, in the southern part of Russia, is a country with a lot of natural resources like coal and uranium, and is the ninth largest country in the world. Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan is a breathtaking futuristic city and has been in the midst of an economic boom. EXPO 2017 ASTANA has also been opened and now, Kazakhstan has a powerful momentum in every field in the world. They held an international photo festival, ‘PHOTO fest. KZ’, and I was invited to participate.
Their aim is to give a place for well-known world photographers to have international and cultural exchanges with each other in Astana. The invited photographers stayed in Kazakhstan from July 1st to 8th and joined the exhibition in The National Museum. With various themes in different countries, they exhibited their own photographs and showed them to people in Kazakhstan. Also, all the invited photographers were divided into 7 groups and traveled to various areas in Kazakhstan to take photographs. Some took air planes and some drove, they had three days and two nights to travel from July 2nd to 4th. After coming back from the trip, they got together again and started making a photo book, ‘Kazakhstan by eyes of world photographers’. Then, this photo book will be given to the President of Kazakhstan. Additionally, Sultan Srailov, the person responsible, managed all the things and bore all the expenses such as airfare, photo printing, accommodations, meals, transportation, daily expenses, and interpreters throughout the event.
The Museum in Astana is huge, and we can’t see such a large-scale building in Japan. The beautiful blue sky reflecting on this modern building’s wall attracted us.
Photographers were from Kazakhstan, Russia, the United States, Turkey, France, and Italy and so on. The host bore all the expenses.
At the opening ceremony, the Minister of art and sports who managed the entire event gave a speech. After some speeches by famous curators in Russia, I took my turn to give a speech. As the first international photo festival in Kazakhstan, the ceremony was full of many enthusiastic people.
As the first international photo festival in Kazakhstan, the ceremony was full of many enthusiastic people.
My exhibition space
I showed 8 black-and-white photographs including my project ‘A Border for prayer’, ‘Youkai no Kuni’ and the new project, working on the theme of fire.
I was interviewed by TV crews constantly. From journalists in this country to ordinary people, I was asked many questions the whole time. Many of them wanted to have a picture taken with me.
Republic of Kazakhstan declared independence after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. The government moved its first capital, Almaty to Astana in 1997. The following year, an international competition of the new capital design was held and Japanese designer, Kisho Kurokawa won the competition. His city planning project was chosen among 27 teams and the construction had started under his plan. With an abundance of natural resources, Kazakhstan has made a remarkable economic growth. Besides, marvelous modern high buildings were built here and there, as if showing us their richness symbolically. At the time of capital relocation, the population was 270,000. After a decade, it grew over 570,000, almost double. And in 2014, about 870,000 people have been living in this city. The government presumes that the population will be one million in 2030. Now more and more high buildings have been under construction with a city planning which is advanced progressively toward the city of one million in 2030.
The following day after the opening ceremony, the invited photographers were divided into 7 groups and started their photo taking trips to many areas in Kazakhstan. They will make a photo book which will be given to the President of Kazakhstan. All the photographers had to sign articles of agreement.
My group went to the mountain area in southern Kazakhstan. After passing through Astana, the prairie spread out. It was like typical central Asian scenery. We had a 6-hour, 500 km drive to get to the shooting spot.
We finally got to "Bayanaul aul-village" where families enjoyed camping and bathing. Since this is a country with no sea, and the temperature heats up to 40 degree in summer time, playing in the lake is one of the popular activities in this country.
During this three-day two-night trip, photographers took pictures of Kazakhstan and had to give 50 pictures to the organizer of the photo book. Yoshida’s group went into the mountain area "Bayanaul National park" to shoot some pictures with their local guide. The scenery was totally different from the Japanese one.
Taking pictures at the picturesque place with many odd-shaped rocks. We met a man who has been working as a guard of the calcareous cave and asked for one picture. Unlike Japanese mountain with lots of greenery, they were rocky in Kazakhstan. We had been looking for a good spot to get a nice picture there.
While we were on the picture-taking trip, we met a lot of local people. They were nice and friendly, moreover, they looked like Japanese. It was a precious time for us to see them and had a great time.
After the shooting trip, we went to Ishim River and took a riverboat tour before going to the EXPO. Not only taking photos as the invited photographers, but also as pleasurable guests, this photo festival amused us throughout the stay.
The theme of the EXPO is ‘Energy of the future’. Their complex facilities of the EXPO had a 174 hectare site. They plan to reuse those buildings as offices of some global companies and laboratories after the expo.
As of the host of the EXPO, the pavilion of Kazakhstan was overwhelming, which had seven stories above the ground and one story in the basement. From the first floor to the top, there was an open ceiling, which made the space gorgeous. Moreover, the view from the observation deck was really splendid.
As of the host of the EXPO, the pavilion of Kazakhstan was overwhelming, which had seven stories above the ground and one story basement. From the first floor to the top, it was an open ceiling, which made the space gorgeous. Moreover, the view from the observation deck was really splendid.
This is Sultan Srailov, the person responsible of the PHOTO fest. KZ. (left in the picture) We were so grateful for his concerns and his hospitality in every way. It was a precious experience for us not only having a photo exhibition but having a photo-taking trip around Kazakhstan. Furthermore, making a photo book with the photographers from many other countries was also a great idea. We enjoyed seeing around the EXPO and taking pictures with each other. Every invited photographer has held the photo exhibition worldwide. Some of them run a photographer’s organization and others have strong connections with the Embassy. We also met some curators who has a great influence with important people. During the stay, Shigeru Yoshida and Setsuko Kanie promoted to hold a photo exhibition of a member of SAMURAI-FOTO in the art museum (the Museum of Fine Arts in Ekaterinburg)in Russia. To wide a circle of people and photographs from Kazakhstan is one of Sultan’s dreams. We are grateful for his hospitality and corporation, we pray for the success of PHOTO feat.KZ and furthermore developments of Kazakhstan.
We showed SAMURAI-FOTO website to Martynov Andrey, a curator of Russia. He held a lot of exhibition such as Novosibirsk International Biennale.
Andrey said that to find and introduce photographers from all over the world is something worthful in his life. He keeps holding photo exhibitions and makes great efforts to introduce Japanese photographers to the world.
During the PHOTO fest. KZ, thanks to Andrey, we could hold a photo exhibition of a member of SAMURAI FOTO in Yekaterinburg art museum in Russia.
This is the scene of the exhibition.
Yekaterinburg is located in the center of Russia and is one of the four biggest cities in this country. The city is the biggest industrial center and has a lot of higher educational facilities, museums and theaters. Especially, Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts is the biggest art museum in Ural region. There, a photo exhibition, ‘The Tokyo Stories’ which Andrey had organized will start from July 20th. Many photographers in Japan and Europe had visited Tokyo and taken photos from various kinds of angle. Those photographs show the diversity of Tokyo with different concepts. 18 photographers joined this project. You can see more than 100 art works there. This project has been held as a part of the Photo festival called ‘FOTOLETO 2017’, which promotes the development of the artistic photographs in Yekaterinburg. Many modern art galleries, universities and photo centers are participating and it is held as the big event of this city.
Yekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts