The global award in photography and sustainability

Rinko Kawauchi

I photographed fireworks every summer between 1997 and 2001, and this collection represents that body of work.

I was still in the process of making my first works at the time, and every day I underwent an agonizing repetition of trial and experimentation. For that reason, I found simple joy in photographing fireworks. Not only do they function as a beautiful subject, but they provided me with a sort of healing; I was living alone in Tokyo at the time, and watching the displays allowed me to be with others and to share that experience with them.

Alongside people of all ages, I would look up at the sky and marvel at the beautiful sparks. In an instant they would vanish – and so would we return to our own daily lives.
In a chaotic world, such moments felt like salvation: an affirmation of being alive.

Fire – a metaphor for both life and death. Beauty that dissipates in an instant. These have functioned as motivations for photography from the beginning; and over time, I think these notions have become symbolic of my early work.

Rinko Kawauchi