THE YOKOHAMA PROJECT

  • Dates
    2015 - Ongoing
  • Author
  • Topics Archive, Documentary, Fine Art, Landscape, Portrait, Travel
  • Location Japan, Japan

2 accidental discoveries at a family house (an Album of photographs of Japan by Felice Beato; A manuscript of an ancestor of mine, who left for Japan in 1867) led me to follow their footsteps to identify local contemporary analogies.

THE YOKOHAMA PROJECT

Felice Beato, Mathilde Ruinart and Giada Ripa: a conversation amongst three artists and their western vision of Japan over a 150 year span.

Rummaging through boxes long forgotten in an attic of my family house in the Italian region of Piedmont, I came across an album of old photographs, fifty-three hand-coloured albumen prints of portraits and views of the city of Yokohama and its surroundings, all in pristine condition.

The photographer is Felice Beato: the first visual narrator of 1860’s Japanese society. He established in Japan when it had just opened its doors to the western world in a period during which the Shogun had forbidden access to foreigners except as part of diplomatic missions. For over fifty years, until the early twentieth century, Beato’s photographs of Asia constituted the standard imagery used in travel diaries, illustrated newspapers, and other published accounts, and thus helping shape “Western” notion of Asian society.

Coincidentally, in parallel, a few months later and while researching on how this portfolio had landed in this house, I found an unpublished manuscript of Mathilde Ruinart, and ancestor of mine, an artist and muse to several intellectuals, who left for the Orient in 1867, along with her diplomat husband, providing a vivid description of it.

From her “Carnets de Voyage” and “Voyage au Japon” emerges the friendship with Felice Beato explaining how the album ended up in the house.

In my role as photographer, archivist and anthropologist, I am acting as the link between Beato’s images and the figure of Mathilde, following their respective footsteps and attempting, through my western prism, to identify local contemporary analogies, (and convey 150 years later, the transformations of society and landscape in Yokohama and its surroundings).

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This ON-GOING PROJECT is still in progress and the next chapter I hope to be able to complete, among others, is the publication of the book containing this visual conversation (with archives, photographs, texts, documents, etc). And using the future book as a platform to disseminate the work further via exhibitions/ presentations.

© Giada Ripa - Mathilde Ruinart’s correspondence from Yokohama, Voyage à l’intérieur du Japon, 1869 - Private Collection
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Mathilde Ruinart’s correspondence from Yokohama, Voyage à l’intérieur du Japon, 1869 - Private Collection

© Giada Ripa - Geisha student, Kyoto, Giada Ripa, 2015
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Geisha student, Kyoto, Giada Ripa, 2015

© Giada Ripa - Yu Yamagata - Female wrestling fighter, Giada Ripa, Tokyo, 2016
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Yu Yamagata - Female wrestling fighter, Giada Ripa, Tokyo, 2016

© Giada Ripa - Image from the THE YOKOHAMA PROJECT photography project
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View from the french bluff, Yokohama, Felice Beato, 1868, (The image belongs to the found Album “ Views of Japan & Historical Notes and native types of Japan”, 1868)

© Giada Ripa - Yokohama, Giada Ripa, 2014
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Yokohama, Giada Ripa, 2014

© Giada Ripa - Image from the THE YOKOHAMA PROJECT photography project
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Takahiro Nagino - Illustrator and Artist, he calls himslef a peaceful samurai, Giada Ripa, Tokyo, 2016 (accompanied by the samurai by Felice Beato)

© Giada Ripa - Image from the THE YOKOHAMA PROJECT photography project
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Archives- Photographic document of Mathilde on horseback and the italian delegation with Japanese officials, at the end of the expedition in inner Japan. Yokohama, 1869, Private Collection

© Giada Ripa - Image from the THE YOKOHAMA PROJECT photography project
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Mathilde found this Colored Drawing from an anonymous japanese artist in a local curio shop in 1869 ( depicting the Italian expedition in the inner Japan, Mathilde riding her horse with her husband, 3 Italian silk worms searchers and 250 men officials- Pr

© Giada Ripa - Kanshin Mochida - Buddhist monk, Giada Ripa, Tokyo 2016
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Kanshin Mochida - Buddhist monk, Giada Ripa, Tokyo 2016

© Giada Ripa - Shoshi Doi - Fashion student- Tokyo, Giada Ripa, Tokyo,  2016 (accompanied by " The straw rain coat" by Felice Beato 1868)
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Shoshi Doi - Fashion student- Tokyo, Giada Ripa, Tokyo, 2016 (accompanied by " The straw rain coat" by Felice Beato 1868)

© Giada Ripa - A beach in Naoshima island-Self Portrait as a tribute to Mathilde Ruinart, Giada Ripa, 2015
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A beach in Naoshima island-Self Portrait as a tribute to Mathilde Ruinart, Giada Ripa, 2015

© Giada Ripa - Inner sea of Japan, Giada Ripa 2015
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Inner sea of Japan, Giada Ripa 2015

© Giada Ripa - Kazufusa Hosho - 20th Generation Head of Hosho School, Noh Performer, Giada Ripa, Tokyo, 2016
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Kazufusa Hosho - 20th Generation Head of Hosho School, Noh Performer, Giada Ripa, Tokyo, 2016

© Giada Ripa - “Yacco” Yasuko Takahashi, Stylist, Giada Ripa, 2016
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“Yacco” Yasuko Takahashi, Stylist, Giada Ripa, 2016

© Giada Ripa - Image from the THE YOKOHAMA PROJECT photography project
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The Ford at Sakawa, Nagawa, Felice Beato, 1868 (The image belongs to the found Album “ Views of Japan & Historical Notes and native types of Japan”, 1868)

© Giada Ripa - Fishmonger, Giada Ripa, Tokyo, 2016
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Fishmonger, Giada Ripa, Tokyo, 2016

© Giada Ripa - Trees, Hakone, Giada Ripa 2015
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Trees, Hakone, Giada Ripa 2015

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