Yoko ISHII: Deer Planet – Day & Night

Curated by│Edward, I-Chien CHIU (Tokyo University of the Arts, phD)

We are delighted to announce the upcoming debut of an eagerly anticipated photography exhibition after Chinese New Year – “Deer Planet: Messengers of Nara”. This exhibition will take you into the mysterious world of Nara and explore the relationship between deer and humans. Through carefully curated photographs, texts, and visual elements, the exhibition aims to provide viewers with a comprehensive experience, allowing you to gain a deeper understanding of the lives of Nara deer and their interactions with humans.

Deer Planet by Yoko ISHII

Japanese photographer Yoko ISHII will showcase her stunning works captured in Nara. The exhibition will run from March 1st to March 31st, 2024. The opening ceremony and art talk with artist will be held on Saturday, March 2nd, from 2:30 PM to 5:00 PM. Yoko ISHII will be present to share her background of works with the audience. We look forward to your participation and the presence of your friends and family, as we explore the photography exhibition “Deer Planet: Messengers of Nara”.

In March 2011, two weeks after the Great East Japan Earthquake, I visited Nara, for the first time in a while. What I saw there were stags fighting with antlers in front of a hotel, and a couple of deer standing dignifiedly in the middle of an intersection. Acting majestically, they seemed to be the masters in the town after human beings have disappeared.

It was the year 767, Takemikazuchithe chief deity of Kashima Shrine was ceremonially enshrined in Nara astride a white deer to protect the ancient capital. Ever since, the Nara deer have been regarded as divine messengers.

The Sika deer in Nara are considered a divine servant and are protected as a special national treasure. However, in various other regions of Japan, the deer’s feeding habits damage seriously to agriculture and forestry. As such, local authorities encourage to practice population management of deer. All over Japan, more than 574,500 deer are killed in addition to 150,500 hunted in 2021.

Deer is protected as idol of tourists or exterminated as pests depending on their habitat. In a sense, deer are like mirrors that reflect human contradictions. However, deer cross the boundaries drawn by human with light steps and live vigorously. Looking through the lens at the deer roaming freely in the town, I see a “Deer Planet” spread out there.

About Artist Yoko ISHII

Yoko Ishii is a Japanese, born artist, living in the suburbs of Tokyo.

In March 2011, Ishii visited Nara after a long time and met deer who freely walked in the early morning town. Ishii started the project which draws a world with only deer by the timing and framing of the photo shooting. Her shooting area gradually expanded nationwide from Hokkaido in the north to Okinawa in the south.

Her work has been shown internationally at exhibitions including Nikon Salon Ginza in 2016 in Japan, Stadthaus in Ulm in Germany in 2017, Auckland Festival of Photography in New Zealand in 20 19, Nara City Museum of Photography and Kasuga Taisha Shrine in Nara in 2022. Her work has been published numerous international magazines and websites including lens culture, European Photography Magazine, Le Monde, The Independent and Wired.com. Her photo book “Dear Deer” was published by Little More

Nov.2022       “Itten Shikai”Deer Gathering in Kasuga Taisha, Nara, Japan
Jun. 2022     “Shadows in Suburbia”inIG Photo Gallery,Tokyo, Japan
Sep. 2019     “Deer Planet” in Kiyoyuki Kuwabara Accounting Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
May 2019     “Deer Planet” in Auckland Festival of Photography, New Zealand
Jan. 2017   “Life” in Mirage Gallery, Kobe, Japan
Nov. 2016    “Dear Deer” photo exhibition in Nara Mahoroba Kan, Tokyo, Japan
Jan. /Feb. 2016  “Beyond the Border” in the Ginza Nikon Salon and Osaka Nikon Salon, Japan

Lens Culture Street Photography Awards 2019, Juror’s Pick (Selected by Rebecca Norris Webb)

Yoko ISHII 「Deer Planet – Day & Night」 solo Exhibition
Date|2024.03.01-2024.03.31 11:00-19:00
Opening & Artist Talks|2024.03.02 (六) 14:30-16:30
Curated by|Edward, I-Chien CHIU, phD

Venue|1839 Contemporary Gallery
TEL│02-2778 8458

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