The exhibition is presented in two parts, each spotlighting a different time period and multiple aspects of life in Japan:
Life in Edo
Discover everyday activities of the Edo period (1603–1868) in Life in Edo – a showcase of woodblock prints and paintings which have come to be called "ukiyo-e" (pictures of the floating world). Subjects include people's travels, ideas on beauty, foods they craved, entertainments, and even the beloved pets of the era. This extensive collection of 157 colourful ukiyo-e prints – the most ever shown in a single exhibition in Singapore – features works from the great masters, including Katsushika Hokusai, Utagawa Hiroshige, Kitagawa Utamaro, Utagawa Kuniyoshi, and more. These historical masterpieces paint a picture of the forward and fascinating lifestyles of the Japanese during the time.
Because these prints are light-sensitive, a completely new set of prints were displayed midway through the exhibition.
Russel Wong in Kyoto
On the other side of the exhibition, Russel Wong in Kyoto premieres photographs from the celebrity photographer’s 13-year-long, ongoing personal project to document the geiko of Kyoto, shedding light on some of the rarely seen and lesser-known traditions of this private community and their place in modern society.
Forty black-and-white photographs illustrate customs and traditions of geishas – called "geiko" in Kyoto. These include the tea ceremony and the lesser known Erikae ceremony, a two-week process where a maiko (geiko in training) prepares herself to become a geiko. Emulating the ukiyo-e prints on display, nearly all the photographs have been printed in ōban size, the most popular woodblock print format during the Edo period.
The exhibition takes a winding path through the two sections, and intersects in a contemplative space where visitors can take a brief rest to compare a work by ukiyo-e artist Hiroshige with one by Russel Wong. This juxtaposition of past and present, both in medium and subject, hopes to prompt a re-evaluation of lines drawn between traditional and contemporary. Visitors can reflect on how past trends and lifestyles can echo so vividly in today's modern society.
Download exhibition text here to use during your visit to the exhibition. Available in English, Japanese, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil,
Extended by Popular Demand!
ACM's expanded Russel Wong in Kyoto displays 37 additional black and white prints and several new colour images from the photographer's ongoing personal project to document the geisha community of Kyoto. This new selection sheds further light on rarely seen and lesser-known traditions of this private community. The images tell stories of traditional and contemporary Japan, revealing how one often merges into the other.
Over 70 black-and-white photographs illustrate customs and traditions of geishas — called "geiko" in Kyoto. The tea ceremony, dance, dressing up, and the lesser known Erikae ceremony, a two-week process where a maiko (geiko in training) prepares herself to become a geiko, are explored. The extension of this special exhibition allows visitors another chance to dive deeper into Kyoto's culture, and celebrates Russel Wong's gift of all the photographs in the show to ACM and the Singapore National Collection.