Photography

Kansuke Yamamoto: A discussion with John Solt


Nonaka-Hill and PAC•LA was pleased to present a morning discussion with Dr. John Solt on Saturday, November 3rd.

John Solt is a poet, award-winning translator and scholar specialized in Japanese Surrealism and avant-garde poetry.  He is associate-in-research at the Edwin O. Reischaur Institute of Japanese Studies at Harvard University and he was poet-in-residence at Vajiravidh College in Bangkok.  In 1998, Solt produced the video “Glass Wind: Kansuke, Kit-Kat and Kazuo”, which includes the only remaining 8mm films by Kansuke Yamamoto.  Solt was responsible for bringing the photographic work of Kansuke Yamamoto to the attention of the Tokyo Station Gallery, which led to the major exhibition “Surrealist Kansuke Yamamoto” (YouTube), co-curated with Ryuichi Kaneko, and contributed to the accompanying monograph “YAMAMOTO Kansuke: Conveyor of the Impossible”.  Solt was a contributor to Getty Museum’s 2013 exhibition and catalogue, “Japan’s Modern Divide: The Photographs of Hiroshi Hamaya and Kansuke Yamamoto”.  


John Solt authored “Shredding the Tapestry of Meaning: The Poetry and Poetics of Kitasono Katue” (Harvard University Asia Center, 1999).   A frequent collaborator of Yamamoto’s, Katue’s work was subject of the solo exhibition “Kitasono Katue: Surrealist Poet” at LACMA in 2013, to which Solt contributed to significantly.  (LACMA video).  


At our Photographic Arts Council event, Solt discussed his relationship with Kansuke Yamamoto, described the times in which Yamamoto and his peers worked to advance avant-garde thought in Japan.  He read Yamamoto’s poetry, and one of his own:


Yamamoto Kansuke: Conveyor of the Impossible


he saw through the prism
of his one cracked eye

and took us behind a mirror
merging dreams with non-dreams

his collages of positives and negatives
glimpse the world of ghosts

boats float along underwater breasts
the sun eye sets on the horizon

his swirling face with umbrella in hand
in a rain-soaked room in underwear

day by day incrementally
he unraveled illusions

a bed hangs in the sky like a cloud
inviting us to roll over and awaken


⁃poem by John Solt

Special thanks to John Solt, Gloria Katz, Willard Huyck and PAC guests who attended.