Set amongst the hills and mountains of Gunma, Japan, the Nakanojo Biennale invites artists to take up residence in unused and abandoned buildings. An area that has suffered from depopulation in the last 30 years the Biennale breathes life back into the area and offers an alternative vision for rural Japan.
This film features interviews with artists Kyoko Fujiwara, Jaime Humphreys, Shinnosuke Tojo and Nobuya Yamaguchi, and festival director Tetsuo Yamashige. Some more images surronding the shoot on flickr
In 2011 I’d independently made a short film at the festival, the film was well received by the organisers and lead to a commission to shoot at the 2015 event. I was given an open brief and a loose deadline but still wanted to produce something functional and ready to show during the festival.
Previously I’d travelled quickly around the exhibits, shooting the art and interviewing local volunteers before completing the edit some months later in London. This time I was living locally and very much involved in the festival. I began with a wish to show the process and the labour involved. I commenced shooting at the start of August and wrapped a few days before finishing the edit in late September. This allowed me to get much closer to everyone involved and gave me a great opportunity to spend time with the artists and festival director.
During this time in Japan I’ve left piles of equipment back in London and have been shooting with a very limited kit: A Canon 5DMk2 DSLR, Zeiss 28mm lens, Zeiss 50mm lens and a Zoom audio recorder. It’s been a challenge and a pain in the arse, and a reminder of why I dislike shooting on DSLRs day to day. The difficulties aside it has been kind of liberating; in 2011 I think I succumbed to too many DSLR cliches, relying on bokeh, handheld and overlays; in 2015 I tried to make up for this by avoiding all of the above, instead concentrating on composition, time and space.