Everett Kennedy Brown is a recipient of the Japanese Government’s Cultural Commissioner’s Award for promoting Japanese culture through his work as a photographic artist and writer of books on cultural theory in Japanese. Originally from Washington D.C. Everett is a 27 year resident of Japan. His work has appeared in National Geographic, GEO, The New York Times, Le Monde, and Kateigaho International among other major international media. His work is featured regularly on NHK and on Japanese television and has been exhibited at the DAVOS World Economic Forum and at museums and galleries in Japan and internationally.
My work focuses on our relationship to time and memory. In Japan memories of the past are hidden in the landscape. We can feel them when we go to old temples or shrines or step into an ancient forest. These places become doorways to the past.
Five hundred years ago people thought the world was flat, until the Italian physicist Galileo showed us differently. In our present age most of us believe that time is linear and flows like a straight line from past to present and future. But modern physicists prove that past, present and future actually coexist in different dimensions. A concept that indigenous people around the world have intuitively understood.
In my artistic work I address the issue of our amnesia regarding time and explore the undercurrents of cultural memory hidden in the Japanese landscape. All over Japan I seek out places where the past still speaks to us, and record those impressions on handmade negatives.
I use a classical photographic process, using wet plate negatives made and developed on location. I then print the images on hand made Japanese washi paper, using mineral inks. I akin myself more to potter or painter than to a photographer, because I use mineral salts and brushes to create forms on the negative to intentionally interact with the composition of the subject. When the technique is successful there is an elegant interplay of subject and process that exhibits a rare and never before seen chiaroscuro beauty.
My subjects are Japanese people, things and landscapes that have an innate timeless quality. By viewing these images the audience can come to realize that the past is alive in the present and is carrying forward into the future. I want the viewer to realize that deep currents of cultural memory are flowing through our lives. If unseen, we may consider them lost or forgotten, even though they exist below the blinding noise and lights of this post-post modern age. These currents are our lifeblood, they sustain our spirits, as they resonate with the memories encoded into our complex nervous system.
I choose the island of Yakushima because it is unpolluted by the frenetic energies of modern life. Ancient memories are there hidden in the rocks, trees and mountains. The land is fertile for creative discovery. This is why the Yakushima Photography Festival is a wonderful opportunity to restore our deep perception of time and feel the ancient timeless memories of Earth’s beauty.
My TEDx Kyoto talk on Time and Memory can be viewed at:
Focusing new light on memory/Everett Kennedy Brown/TEDx Kyoto
Everett Kennedy Brown Biography
1959 Born in Washington, D.C.
1982 Graduated from Antioch College with major in Foreign Civilizations and Literatures
1982 Traveled to Asia and lived in various countries
1988 Settled in Japan
1999 Established Brown’s Field, a prototypical farm
A photographer working in Japan for the past 25 years, my work has appeared in most major global media, including National Geographic, Geo, Time, Newsweek, Le Monde, Der Spiegel, The Times, New York Times. I’ve been fortunate to travel extensively throughout the Japanese archipelago, with many opportunities to meet uniquely remarkable people and hear their stories. Somehow, doors have opened allowing me to view things rarely accessible to the public eye. In my photography I wish to share these experiences as much as I can.
In recent years, I have often been asked to share my stories and perspectives on Japan. I’m invited to give lectures, appear on television, write essays and books in Japanese and even offer advice on national government policy. On one government panel I summarized my experience of Japan by saying, “Japan is a land of endless discovery” and to my amazement these words were adopted by the Japanese Government as a national slogan.
Exploring the vast literature on the culture of Japan, especially ethnography, is also, for me, a passion. My readings deeply influence the vision that permeates my photography. It’s been my experience that ancient currents of Japanese culture are still accessible if we but open our minds by acquiring the knowledge and developing the skills needed to attune ourselves to these energies. This belief is deeply shared and nurtured by such cultural leaders and friends as Matsuoka Seigo, Kawasae Toshiro, Tezuka Yuji and Raku Kichizaemon.
For me, life in Japan is a long and ever-deepening love affair with place and culture. Through my imagery, honoring the use of Japanese classical techniques and traditional materials, I wish to share my vision of the deep currents of Japanese culture that I encounter in my journeys.
Alongside my photographic and writing activities I established a Japanese farm with my wife, the popular cookbook writer Deco Nakajima. Located one hour east of Tokyo, near the Pacific coast, Brown’s Field (www.brownsfield-jp.com) and the country inn Jiji no Ie (www.jijinoie.com) reflect my vision of an ideal rural Japanese experience.
I am available to lead private cultural and photographic tours of Japan, which can be arranged through Inside Japan Tours. For details, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Awards and Appointments
International Center for Japanese Culture, Creative Advisor, 2014-present
MEXT Culture Vision Summit member, 2014-present
Commissioner of Cultural Affairs Award for the Promotion of Japanese Culture from the Agency for Cultural Affairs in Japan (within MEXT), 2013
Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) Committee Advisor on Intermediary Plan towards creating a Nation based on Culture and the Arts, 2013-present
IBM Business and Cultural Leaders Council member, 2012-present
Japan Inter-Design Forum member, 2012-present
Keynote Lecturer at Meiji University’s Cool Japan Program, 2010-present
METI Cool Japan Advisory Council member, 2010-2012
Advisor to Forum 21 think tank on cultural development, 2009
Advisor to Japanesque Modern project on national image branding, 2007
M.I.L.K. Photo Competition award, 2001
GEO magazine, Picture of the Year, 2001
Japanese Cabinet Office, Media Relations advisor, 1999
Education and Work
Commissioned by MeiPAM Gallery museum to document island culture of Shodoshima, 2014
Commissioned by Sankei-en, to document estate of Meiji industrialist, Hara Sankei, 2013
Commissioned by Takenaka Corporation to document Japanese craftsmanship, 2012
Produced country inn, Jiji no Ie (www.jijinoie.com), 2011
Bureau Chief of European Pressphoto Agency (EPA), 2003-2012
Established Japan bureau of EPA, 2003
Established Brown’s Field farm (http://brownsfield-jp.com), 1999
Began working for Shueisha and Shogakukan publishers, 1990
Began working for Kodansha publishers, 1989
Studied at Guangdong College of Oriental Medicine, China, 1985
Began career as writer and photojournalist, 1982
Graduated Antioch College, B.A. Foreign Civilizations and Literatures, 1982
Selected Books and Publications
Magazine feature: Waraku (in Japanese) 2014
Magazine feature: Kateigaho International Edition, 2014
Magazine interview: Art Collectors’ (in Japanese), 2014
Book: Echoes of Tradition, Gallery A4, 2014
Book Translation: Isshin Denshin (Conscious Body, Contagious Mind), Shinjusha, 2013
Book essay: Kenja no Hon (Book of Sages), “Nihon no Mirai no Bunkaryoku,” Sangokan Publishers, 2013
Book photographs for Shintaikankakude Basho wo Yominaosu, (authored by Yasuda Noboru), Shinjyusha Publishers, 2012
Book essay: Matsumaruhonpo, “Boku ga Koishita Honya no Keireki,” Gentosha Publishers, 2012
Book translation: Roots of Japan(s): Unearthing the Cultural Matrix of Japan, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, 2011
Book: Nihonryoku (in Japanese), Parco Publishers, 2010
Book essay: Japanesque Modern, “Ability to read feelings is a special gift,” Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, 2008
Book: Iketeirudakedeinjyanai, (in Japanese), Kindai Eigasha Publishers, 2005
Book: Ganguro Girls, Konemann Publishers, 2001
Essay: Japan Quarterly, Asahi Shimbun, “In Search of the Japanese Spirit of Sport,” 2001
Book: Oretachi no Nippon (in Japanese), Shogakukan Publishers, 1999
Exhibition Catalogue Translation: “Japan Through the Eyes of W. Eugene Smith,” Tokyo Museum of Photography, 1996
Selected Solo Exhibitions
Nihon no Takumi, Takenaka Carpentry Tools Museum, Kobe, 2015
Nihon no Omokage, Sankei-en Museum, Yokohama, 2015
Jidai wo Koeru Jyokei, MeiPAM Gallery museum, Shodoshima, 2014
Ichibu no Ichiten, Yamashita Gallery, Tokyo, 2014
Echoes of Tradition, Gallery A4, Tokyo, 2014
Boso, Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, Tokyo, 2014
Giappone nel Chiostro, Museo Diocesano di Brescia, Italy, 2013
Boso ni Kurashi, Nihon wo Toru, at DENEN Museum, Isumi, Japan, 2012
After the Tsunami, World Economic Forum, Winter Davos, 2012
After the Tsunami Collodions, World Economic Forum, Summer Davos, 2011
Cool, Gallery Concept 21, Tokyo, 2008
Ganguro Girls, Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Tokyo, 2002
The Botanical Garden, Photo Gallery Ississ, Kyoto, 1998
Vivarium, Verso Gallery, Tokyo, 1998
Light in the Garden (part 2), Alpha Gallery, Tokyo, 1997
Light in the Garden (part 1), Alpha Gallery, Tokyo, 1997
Two Botanical Gardens: Jardin Rio de Janeiro and Koishikawa, Polaroid Gallery, 1996
The Inner Garden, Gallery Trax, Yamanashi, 1996
Children of Asia, Shonan International Village, 1995
India, Imagine Gallery, Tokyo, 1994
The Voice of the Forest, Grey Gallery, Tokyo, 1993
The Orient, Palais de France, Tokyo, 1988
Selected Group Exhibitions
Beauty, Sheraton Gallery, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2008
Ganguro, Spellman College Gallery, Georgia, U.S.A., 2004
Peace Art, Tokyo International Forum, 2003
Polaroid Works 1976-2002, Polaroid Gallery, Tokyo, 2002
Peace Art, Tenri Cultural Institute, New York, 2002
Peace Art, Hiroshima Peace Memorial, 2002
Peace Art, Tokyo Polytechnic University, 2002
Love: A Celebration of Humanity (M.I.L.K.), Sydney Opera House, American Express Viaduct Harbor (Auckland New Zealand), Federation Square (Melbourne, Australia), The Broad Walk (Regents Park, London), 2003
Love: A Celebration of Humanity (M.I.L.K.), Science Museum, London, 2002
Love: A Celebration of Humanity (M.I.L.K.), Vanderbilt Gallery, New York, 2001
Corpus, Fuji Gallery, Tokyo, 1999
Out of Asia, Tokyo City Art Museum, 1994