Mark Holborn

  • Issey Miyake and Isamu Noguchi

    Marugame, a small port on the shore of Shikoku, Japan’s eastern island, is the site of the Genichiro Inokuma Museum of Contemporary Art. This bold box of a building was designed by Yoshio Taniguchi and built in 1991 in honor of the late painter Inokuma, who was born in Marugame but lived for many years in the West. The museum’s rectangular white facade, which from the town square appears framed like a giant television set, is marked with blown-up versions of Inokuma’s childlike brush drawings of animals.

    This innocent note established the tone of an exhibition that represented an astonishing


    THE JAPANESE TERM IMAMEKASHI, which might be translated “of the moment,” was coined in the Heian court of the tenth century. It was a term of currency, emphasizing the present, and it was applied by a culture aware that it inhabited a transient world. The early Japanese novelist Lady Murasaki, observing the ritual of the Heian court, would describe every delicacy of the color or cut of cloth in esthetic terms. She filled her prose with the implications of imamekashi as astutely as any contemporary fashion journalist. This concentration on the present, the fleeting moment, is related to and


    “YOU'VE GOT TO HAVE something to counter the chaos,” William Eggleston once said. He was turning up a tape of Bach in his car stereo as we drove into the outskirts of Memphis, Tennessee, where the photographer lives. Eggleston does a lot of driving, and chaos, framed and ordered by a car window, is a frequent view in his daily rhythm. Taillights, telephone wires, parking lots—these are a few of the constituents of his driver’s vision. Surfacing in his photographs, they reveal the perspective of somebody in motion. There is a velocity combined with dexterity in the way Eggleston works. He drives


    HOW DOES ONE ACTUALLY stand in the shadow of another, and begin to understand the other’s history, the other’s ghosts? In the gulf that still separates Japan from the West and the West from Japan, we remain in the roles we began with—the roles of traders exchanging contracts, for shipments of art, televisions, domestic appliances, names. Caught in a state of mutual ignorance, East and West shadow one another, chasing the exotic, hungry for the alien, eager to transplant the riches of the other’s world. For centuries this dialogue has cultivated hybrids that are more often mirrors of the culture

  • Tokyo 1970–1985

    Masatoshi Naito, Tokyo 1970–1985 (Tokyo: Meicho Publishing, 1985), 221 pages, 90 black and white photographs.

    The Tokyo described by Masatoshi Naito’s photographs is a land of the dead, guarded by fiends and demons whose outer appearances are those of destitution. These guardians have slipped past the city’s corporate headquarters, department stores, and commuter trains, past the timetables by which its intricate urban machinery is scheduled. Naito is drawn to “black holes,” to the shadowy, subterranean, or nocturnal world where, he believes, the true psyche of Tokyo resides; here he finds links

  • “I am on a train moving eastward.”

    To travel in space you must leave the old verbal garbage behind: God talk, country talk, mother talk, love talk, party talk. . . You must learn to live alone in silence. Anyone who prays in space is not there.
    ––William Burroughs1

    I AM ON A TRAIN moving eastward. Outside the window is central Siberia. The shrub and birch across the great plain become sparser, and the settlements by the track less frequent. Wooden houses are huddled behind high log fences, the last outposts engulfed by an expanse of white. I am farther from a coastline than ever before, but I am increasingly aware of both the


    AT THE EPICENTER OF THE Hiroshima explosion a man was painting a wall. Perched on a ladder with arm outstretched he disintegrated. Like a comic strip figure who has been hurled through bricks, his outline was imprinted on the wall. The silhouette remains. The man was severed from his shadow as the atom was split. The shadow continues to paint the wall which, inconceivably, still stands. There are myths of shadowless men, like ghosts, who permanently accuse their murderers.

    The inadequacy of language is evident in the face of such events. After the first atomic test at Los Alamos, New Mexico, J.