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Exploring Uncharted Realms: ROTH BART BARON’s Masaya Mifune and Kishomaru Shimamura Explore Photographic Aesthetics

2023.11.30

#MUSIC

To mark the completion of ROTH BART BARON’s latest album “8,” Masaya Mifune released his first photo book featuring new images titled “RBB ‘ZINE’ BEAR MAG vol. 3 – ‘8’ Photo Book” (with CD). Simultaneously, an exclusive exhibition called “Music and Graphics #002,” celebrating this project in collaboration with six creators—Tsuguya Inoue, Yuri Kaminishi, Ken Okamuro, Kishomaru Shimamura + Maiko Higuchi, and Yoshiko Fujita—is taking place from November 9 to December 17 at OFS TOKYO in Ikejirioohashi.

Among the six collaborators, Kishomaru Shimamura stands out as the lone photographer and artist whose primary domain is photography. Much like Mifune, who actively engages in various fields centered around music and photography, Shimamura participates in a diverse range of expressive endeavors, including the establishment of a ramen store, a fragrance brand, and the management of a gallery. In our planned conversation, we delve into topics of photography and music, exploring the origins of their creativity that allows them to seamlessly navigate the world and produce works that transcend a singular form of expression.

During the discussion, the two artists coincidentally appeared with the same camera for a project involving “capturing each other’s pictures.” Starting with a leisurely stroll through the exhibition site, the conversation unfolded harmoniously. They touched upon their latest creations, reflections on the impact of the pandemic, insights gained from their experiences abroad, and the discovery of the enchantment prevalent in the world—ultimately forming the foundations of their artistic expressions. At its core, the discussion emphasized the significance of being attuned to the subtle magic present in the world.

Kishomaru: Mifune’s Photographs are Akin to Music. It Possess a Private, Novelistic Quality while Maintaining an Overarching Perspective

Masaya Mifune photo by Kisshomaru Shimamura
Born in Tokyo, Japan. He formed ROTH BART BARON in 2008. Currently based in Berlin, Germany and Tokyo, he will perform at “FUJI ROCK FESTIVAL” for the second time in 2023.
In 2021, “BLUE SOULS” by A_o, a duo of artists with Aina the End In 2022, he composed the music and theme song for the movie “My Small Land,” which won the Amnesty International Film Award at the Berlin International Film Festival. He is currently on a 13-concert national tour starting in November, entitled “ROTH BART BARON TOUR 2023-2024 ‘8’”.

The weather was ideal for capturing shots during a leisurely walk.Do both of you often take photos while walking like this in your daily routines?

Mifune: I often take pictures of scenery I find interesting while strolling around town. This photo book also contains photos of sparkling discoveries I have made in my life since moving to Germany.

Kishomaru: When I take photographs, I usually do the same thing, and I try to take an honest look at the scenery in my daily life that catches my attention or that I find “nice” in a phenomenon.

Kishomaru Shimamura photo by Masaya Mifune
Born in Tokyo. Artist. Photographer. He is active both in Japan and abroad, not only in photography, but also as a co-chairman of the frenzy brand kibn, Ramen Kichoshomaru, and SAME GALLERY. His solo exhibitions include “Unusual Usual” (Portland, 2014), “Inside Out” (Warsaw, 2016), and “photosynthesis” (Tokyo, 2020).

While capturing images on the move, there appears to be a shared affinity for certain scenes between both of you. Interestingly, the fact that both of you are using the identical Makina medium-format film camera is quite astonishing.

Kichijomaru: I was surprised too. And not only the makina 67, but also the CONTAX compact camera that they brought as a sub was exactly the same.

Mifune: Actually, yesterday, I was just hanging out at a coffee shop in Nakameguro when Mr. Kichijomaru happened to pass by on his bicycle and dashed right up to me (laughs). (Laughs.) That was the first time we met, but it really is full of strange coincidences, isn’t it?

Maybe that’s the reason why I felt an instant connection again today. Nonetheless, this marks our inaugural collaboration in crafting art together. Kishomaru, what were your thoughts on Mifune’s photographs?

Kichijomaru: I came to know of Mifune’s existence through music, so in that sense, I thought his photographs were wonderful and not at odds with his musicality. I felt that the smell from the photographs and the smell from the music were the same. The photos are like a personal novel, but they also have a bird’s-eye view, and the underlying idea of Mifune’s own expression and recordings is consistent. I also take a lot of photos in my daily life as an independent photographer, so I felt a similar perspective from the photos that I could identify with, “This is a moment I couldn’t help but take a picture of.

As part of the ongoing exhibit ‘Music and Graphics #002,’ six artists, drawing inspiration from tracks on ROTH BART BARON’s latest album ‘8,’ have individually produced artworks centered around a chosen song. Kishomaru, would you mind discussing the specifics of the piece you’ve created for this event?

Kichijomaru: I looped “8” over and over and chose the song “Boy. I had a hard time deciding, and in the end I chose it on a hunch. If I had to give a reason, it would be because the lyrics are very abstract. If I had to give a reason, it would be because the lyrics are often abstract, and I did not want the photos to embody the lyrics and define something. This time, we also have a collection of Mifune’s photographs, and I thought we should create something that has a slightly different atmosphere from his work, but also has a margin to accompany “8”.

Kichijomaru: While the other exhibitors this time were all graphic designers, I was in the unique position of being the only photographer like Mr. Mifune, and as I thought about what I could do, I ended up choosing “a photo of a boy’s backside,” which echoes the title of the song. In the end, I went around in a circle and chose “a photo of a boy’s backside” as the title of the song.

Mifune: Many of Kichijomaru’s photographs are of fleeting moments that drift in and out of relationships. There is a gentleness to them, but there is also a sense of distance. I like the perfect balance of softness and tension. Actually, I haven’t seen his works yet because I didn’t want to see them until the exhibition started, but knowing that kind of charm, I am looking forward to seeing how the works will turn out when they meet “Boy”.

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