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Exhibition at Michael Hoppen Gallery offers a first look at new work by Sohei Nishino
Portrait of Sohei Nishino in the Himalayas, 2019.

LONDON.- Sohei Nishino has described himself as more than a photographer, and in his most recent projects he brings his cartographic vision to bear upon places which have traditionally defied definition on paper. His signature photo-collage technique pieces together thousands of images taken over the course of his travels, to construct dioramas of complex geographies which integrate human and physical landscapes. Moving beyond his earlier work in urban environments, Nishino has most recently travelled to Mount Everest, and to the sea which runs between northern Japan and eastern Russia, taking on some of the world’s most challenging environments.

Nishino’s Everest draws inspiration from the maps used traditionally by pilgrims to navigate holy sites. Fascinated by the historical significance and symbolism of Everest, Nishino shot almost 400 rolls of film during his 23 day journey from Lucla to Gokyo Peak. He relates this intense journey through the Himalayas to those undertaken by sherpas and other local people who call the mountain home.

Instead of following a linear course to a fixed destination, as many of visitors to Everest do, Nishino captures his experience of the road from a dense and meticulously planned variety of vantage points. Whilst Nishino continues to explore his interest in the relationship between people and their environment, his map of Everest illustrates an intense engagement with this harsh geography, and the ways that it shapes the lives of local populations. Nishino has described this project as one of the toughest periods of shooting, and in its unprecedented scale and use of colour it stands apart from his other work to date.

To create Journey of Drifting Ice, Nishino started out from the extreme north-eastern tip of Japan, in Hokkaidō’s Shiretoko peninsular. Fascinated by the drift ice, which expands across Shiretoko’s seas, he began to research the science behind these colossal formations, and the remarkable journey ice floes travel from Russia’s great Amur River through to the Sea of Okhotsk before arriving in Japanese waters. Nishino observes the drift ice as a naturally occurring transnational phenomenon, acting as a prescient appeal to our divided global society. In the light of the environmental crisis, Nishino’s mapping of these disappearing geographical features is charged with additional urgency; the landscape of these long unchartered waters is changing rapidly, and Nishino’s photography takes stock of both the ice floe’s evolving position and the integral necessity of its ecosystems to the diverse communities which rely upon them.

Sohei Nishino was born in Hyogo, Japan in 1982. He graduated from Osaka University of the Arts in 2004, when he began working on his Diorama Map series. Since then he has exhibited his work internationally and gleaned numerous awards including 'President Award', Osaka University of Arts (2004), 'Young Eye Japanese Photographer Association Award' (2005), 'Canon New Cosmos Photography Award' (2005), the 'Canon Excellence Award' (2005) and at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2016). He has also participated in several group shows, festivals and solo exhibitions: Daegu Photo Biennale, Korea (2010); Out of Focus exhibition, Saatchi Gallery, London (2012); Contemporary Japanese Photography vol.10, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography (2012); A Different Kind of Order: ICP Triennial, New York (2013).

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