Kwaidan Stories of Strange Things
Photographs Hiroshi Watanabe
Exhibition from September 3 to October 26, 2019
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In 1904, just a few months before his death in Tokyo, a Greek-Irish writer who spent much of his adult life in America, published “Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things,” a collection of horror tales from traditional Japanese folklore, which remains widely read and inspired notable films. The life of writer Lafcadio Hearn was no less extraordinary than his writing, and both inspired Hiroshi Watanabe, an award-winning Japanese-born photographer currently living in Los Angeles, to recreate in imagery the tales compiled and translated into English by Hearn over a century ago.
In the Japanese Buddhist tradition, fantastic tales had an exemplary function, revealing a broader dimension of human existence. In this sense, Hiroshi Watanabe's photographs provide a rare and mysterious view of the occult. Many of the stories are represented in a single image, others, denser in symbolism, even have three scenes. In 2016 the photographer received a grant from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, which enabled the project to be completed in Japan, in 2019, with the publication of the Kwaidan reprint, illustrated by 23 photographs from the series.