Michael Furman, Hector Mediavilla & Tsutomu Yamagata

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Thursday, August 29 – Saturday, September 28
Reception: Thursday, August 29, 6-8 pm

Tsutomu Yamagata: Thirteen Orphans. Tsutomu Yamagata photographs his subjects in Ueno Park in Tokyo. He writes that the title Thirteen Orphans refers to the name of the strongest hand in the game of mahjong. “In this hand all the cards are unrelated to each other. However, if one card is missing, this hand is worthless. Each is unlike all the others; each combines to make the whole. Just like human society.

Yamagata’s B&W images are shot on film and printed in a traditional darkroom. They share an affinity with those of August Sander and Diane Arbus, not just in their appearance, but also in the type of individual being photographed. He writes that “each model has his/her own background and character so unique that no types, no categories, can specify them.” Tsutomu Yamagata lives in Tokyo, where he is a member of the Japan Professional Photographers Society. He is represented by the Zen Foto Gallery, Tokyo. This is his first exhibition in the US.

In video #30 of photo-eye’s In-Print Photobook series, Melanie McWhorter reviews Yamagata’s book of Thirteen Orphans, published by Zen Foto Gallery.


Michael Furman’s Unalike Zones was created while riding the London subway, and was his graduate thesis project for the London College of Communication. He writes that the setting of London Underground creates a curious subculture, where people not only don’t speak to each other but also do whatever they can to avoid each other, mainly by avoiding eye contact. Utilizing stills and video, Furman presents an immersive duality of commuter viewpoints. One – video – monitors body language and eye movement. The second – color still imagery – simulates where a glance may fall if avoiding eye contact with the opposite commuter. These perspectives betray a variety of body language, social laws, and taboos that govern our interactions with strangers.

Michael Furman lives in Denver. He completed a BA in Photography at the University of Denver before completing his MA in London. This is his first solo exhibition.

The Sapeurs of Brazzaville by Héctor Mediaville documents the Sapeurs of Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo. His images vibrate with color, style, and culture. The term Sapeur comes from la sape, which is French slang meaning “to dress with elegance and style”. It is also the abbreviation for Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes, (Society of Tastemakers and Elegant People).

“At the beginning of the 20th century when the French arrived in Congo, the myth of the Parisian elegance was born among the youth of the Bakongo ethnic group, who were working for the colonizers. At that time, the white man was considered superior, someone showing better manners and elegance. In 1922, Grenard André Matsoua was the first Congolese ever to come back from Paris dressed as a genuine French. His arrival caused indescribable commotion and admiration among his fellow countrymen; he became known as the first Grand Sapeur

. Each Sapeur is unique showing a particular repertoire of gestures. 
They all share the same dream: To go to Paris and return to Brazzaville as an aristocrat of supreme elegance.” – Héctor Mediavilla

Héctor Mediavilla is a Spanish documentary photographer who primarily photographs in Africa and Latin America. His work has been published in a number of magazines including Colors, Geo, New York Times, Time, Newsweek, Business Week, and Esquire. He is represented by the Agency Picture Tank in Paris and is cofounder of the Spanish collective Pandora.

The Sapeurs of Brazzaville is presented courtesy of the artist and Newspace, Portland, OR.