The island of Aogashima is the southernmost in the Izu chain, almost 400km south of the bustle of Tokyo. To reach it, you need to first make your way to the island of Hachijojima, then take a helicopter or a boat which is cancelled every other day due to rough winds and seas. Sheer cliffs meet the water around almost the entire circumference, so the one inland swimming pool is the only safe place for swimming. Less than 200 people live there, mostly making a living through agriculture or various jobs supporting the local community; the primary school has more staff than students.
Across multiple trips to the island, Hamish Campbell has been documenting the hidden paths dotted around the harsh and unique landscape, the most prominent feature being the concentric twin volcanic calderas. The collection also includes environmental portraiture of the local residents, many who have lived their whole lives there, isolated from the typical scenes of Japan's mega cities.
The works aim to explore how places of majestic isolation and mystery can simultaneously be quiet, mundane and homely. It's easy to exotify places and lifestyles foreign to us, but there is a great comfort in the realisation that under all the built up assumptions of intrigue and mystique that we bring with us to new places, there exists an equal measure of banality and humble everyday community.
All works are black and white silver gelatin prints produced from a medium format film camera, the images carefully exposed, developed and then printed by the artist's hand. A short documentary featuring stunning aerial views will also be on display in the gallery, with sound recordings from the island providing an ambient backdrop.
Hamish Campbell is a Sydney born artist who has been based in Japan since 2009.
He will be presenting his third major solo show at Artsite Gallery during the Head On photo festival in May 2018.
He explores themes of isolation geographically, socially and culturally, evoking a sense of nostalgic comfort and self reflection through alienation.
His previous solo show, The Taisho Photographer's House, proved a popular attraction during the HeadOn festival 2016. More about it here:
Video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AyqxHC5MpaU
Further examples of his work are available on his website, www.hamish-campbell.com
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