#21 Hiroshi Sugimoto

Interview with Hiroshi Sugimoto

Hiroshi Sugimoto is an artist who is active both in Tokyo and New York. While most photographers try to capture decisive moment, Suigmoto’s works are highly evaluated by for his unique concept of time, so he calls “Time Exposed”. We interview about upcoming performance, Sanbaso, which produced by Sugimoto in conjunction with the exhibition Gutai: Splendid Playground at Guggenheim Museum and his future activities.


– What did you learn and experience when you first came to the U.S. to study photography?


I came to the U.S. in 1970, and spent four years in West Coast. Right after that I moved to New York in 1974 and I’ve been working here since then. Once I’ve opened an antique shop in SOHO for ten years, and my experiences through this period of time are still living in my collections and art works as those of a modern designer. I gained a basic knowledge about Japanese art and the unique characteristics of them sank into my body by actually dealing with Japanese antiques. By opening a Japanese antique shop in New York, I’ve become more “Japanese” than Japanese people in Japan. I mean that, it is the same case for any Japanese in foreign countries; we Japanese often encounter the occasions where we have to represent our country to discuss something. I believe that this has much to do with how Japanese overseas build up our identities.

–Do you feel honored about the fact that your works are highly valued all over the world, after building up such an identity as Japanese?


Recently, you can see many of my works fetching high prices at contemporary art auctions around the world, but I don’t really feel it is right. In the time like now when contemporary arts which are just produced are valued as more than ten thousand dollars, I think that a quality of art itself has been changed somehow. It is almost like that art became commodities and markets of that became futures trading. So, there are not many people who purchase art works just because they love art. There is even the one who buys an art and puts it in his garage till he sells it to someone again.

– What are your recent activities?


I’ve worked as a creator and a photographer as before, but these days, I have lots of work related to architectures. One of them is a huge exhibition, led by a designer, Kennya Hara, about the future of Japanese people’s living, named “HOUSE VISION,” opening in Odaiba, Tokyo, on March 1st. Well-known architects actually built each room or house there, along with their own themes. In my case, I built a house with a concept, “thinking about the future of tea-ceremony arbors.” Other than that, the project of Oak Omotesando building is coming close to its completion. Like this, I’ve been busy with these arch