FRESH VISION OF UNITED STATES: Photography Series by Hidemi Takagi

By Hudson Guild

Hidemi Takagi was born in Kyoto, Japan and
currently lives in Brooklyn.  Her
photographs capture the vibrancy and hyper-saturation of color which she
envisioned in her youth as distinctly American.  As a resident of New York City since 1997, she has explored the varied cultures in the neighborhoods where she has lived.  She photographs the color, joy and life of the
people who come from diverse communities around the world to become Americans
in this city. 

Happie Photographie: Happy Together by Hidemi TakagiHudson Guild

Happie Photographie

When she was a teenager in Japan, Hidemi Takagi saw "American Graffiti” on television. She was amazed by the color in the film.  Everybody was dressed in bright clothes; all of the cars and furniture were extremely colorful. She felt it was very American and it filled her with happy feelings.  When she moved to New York City in 1997, she experienced the kind of bright colors which she had only seen previously in films. This series expressed her amazement with those colors that she was now witnessing in person in America.    

Happie Photographie: Tilt a Whirl by Hidemi TakagiHudson Guild

Happie Photographie: Untitled by Hidemi TakagiHudson Guild

The Blender Cart by Hidemi TakagiHudson Guild

Blender

Nowhere is there such an intersection of cultures as in New York City. Store awnings with messages in entirely unfamiliar alphabets are common. Many of them advertise goods catering to specific nationalities and cultures, especially foods that were brought here or requested by immigrants. Blender is a project which includes photos of the packaging of food products from neighborhoods with a large immigrant influence.  The look of these food packages often has an old-fashioned feel: bright, saturated colors and outmoded designs. The Blender project included an interactive element called the “Blender Cart.” The artist gave out samples from the cart of various international foods and culturally-connected products.  Then the public could take them home and learn more about those different cultures through the imported products.

Blender: Peru by Hidemi TakagiHudson Guild

Blender: Columbia by Hidemi TakagiHudson Guild

Blender: Italy by Hidemi TakagiHudson Guild

Blender: Nigeria by Hidemi TakagiHudson Guild

Blender: Croatia by Hidemi TakagiHudson Guild

Blender installation shot by Hidemi TakagiHudson Guild

The Bed-Stuy Social 'Photo' Club: Zy'ni and Jay Jay by Hidemi TakagiHudson Guild

The Bed-Stuy Social 'Photo' Club

Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, New York has been historically a home to African-American and Caribbean communities. Many of the artist's neighbors were born and raised in this tight-knit, working class community.  She created a pop-up photography studio in her front yard where she offered free portraits to members of the community.  Many are people who would never have the opportunity to be in the spotlight, and she wanted to treat them like superstars.  She prepared unique props and colorful backgrounds that people could pick for their portraits.  One of the best parts was that many people got involved in the project, cheering on other subjects, and helping with the studio set-up and styling of the subjects.  

The Bed-Stuy Social 'Photo' Club: Linda by Hidemi TakagiHudson Guild

Linda was born and raised in Bed-Stuy. Her daughter and grandsons were also born and raised there, and are still living in the neighborhood.

The Bed-Stuy Social 'Photo' Club: DayDay by Hidemi TakagiHudson Guild

DayDay has been living in Bed-Stuy all his life. While the artist was unloading her stuff from a van as she was moving into the neighborhood, DayDay showed up and asked if she needed help. And he stayed to help until everything was moved in.

The Bed-Stuy Social 'Photo' Club: Jeannie by Hidemi TakagiHudson Guild

Jeannie has been living in Bed-Stuy for close to 60 years. She went to San Francisco for a bit, but then came back. She grew up with many people in the neighborhood who she’s known since they were kids.

The Bed-Stuy Social 'Photo' Club: Pee Wee by Hidemi TakagiHudson Guild

Pee Wee used to work in the building next door to the artist, until he had to stop when he had knee surgery. But he still comes back to visit with his friends in front of the building. He is tall, has an instantly recognizable voice, and loves Corona. When he comes to hang out on the stoop, people come up right away and sit and start talking with him.

The Bed-Stuy Social 'Photo' Club: Zy'ni and Jay Jay by Hidemi TakagiHudson Guild

Zy’ni and Jay Jay are siblings and second generation Bed-Stuy residents, born and raised there.

The Barbershops by Hidemi TakagiHudson Guild

These photographs document the neighborhood institutions of barbershops which are central to public life in Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights, currently under threat from real estate development and rapid gentrification. The artist tried to capture the sense of styles and artistry which the barbers and their clients share, celebrating a predominantly male public culture that has been central to the development of a distinctive Brooklyn aesthetic.

Hello it's me: Yachiyo by Hidemi TakagiHudson Guild

Hello, it's me

This series began as a part of More Art’s Engaging Artists Residency, when the artist began to make regular visits to some senior housing sites in Brooklyn and Manhattan.  She developed great friendships with some of the seniors who lived in these places.  They began sharing their family narratives, as well as talking about current events that are shaping their neighborhoods.  The result was a collaborative multimedia installation, where each image was paired with an audio recording of the participant’s story in her own voice. The project provided the residents an opportunity to recollect and narrate their personal memories, while allowing future generations to learn about their roots through a multi-sensory experience.

 

Hello it's me: Mary by Hidemi TakagiHudson Guild

Mary was born in the American South and left a difficult relationship there when she was young to find new opportunity in New York.

Hello it's me: Therencia by Hidemi TakagiHudson Guild

Therencia was born and raised on the beautiful island of St. Lucia, but left it when she was very young to find greater opportunities in New York.

Hello it's me: Yachiyo by Hidemi TakagiHudson Guild

This subject, Yachiyo Teramura, was 93 years old when the photograph was taken. She is a Japanese-American woman who was born in Los Angeles and moved to New York City after she experienced life in a Japanese internment camp in Arizona during World War II.

Credits: Story

Hidemi Takagi's work has been shown at Hudson Guild in the following exhibits: Movement in Art (2005), Celebrating Color (2005), Blender (2010), and Hello, it's me (2017).

This exhibit was created by Jim Furlong.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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