Past Exhibition

Tokyo Compression

Michael Wolf - 3 July to 22 August 2015

Tokyo Compression © Michael Wolf.

Tokyo Compression © Michael Wolf.

Belfast Exposed is pleased to present Michael Wolf’s iconic photo series Tokyo Compression which depicts the daily commute in Tokyo.

The series is made up of portraits of people in the subway constrained between glass, steel and fellow travelers. The work is a fascinating study in the psychology of the modern commuter and the techniques people use to cope with the difficulty of this daily necessity.

Tokyo Compression regards the subway as a metonym for contemporary life. It is a dystopian view of the pressures of daily working life in large cities, and in the globalized, market-driven, developed world more generally. The edit, which is concentrated on the passengers’ facial expressions and body language, moves the work from a straight documentary description of discomfort towards a dramatization of suffering.

Tokyo Compression speaks of the alienation of the working masses. It queries ideas of community, enforced or otherwise, and the increasing importance and precariousness of trust in our society and our systems – social, political and economic. Tokyo Compression speaks of the pressure of time and the burden of waiting; about mobility, the drive to succeed, and the fear and anxiety of failure. It also speaks poignantly of sadness and loneliness.

Michael Wolf (b. Munich, Germany) lives in Hong Kong. He studied at UC Berkeley in the US and at the Folkwang School with Otto Steinert in Essen, Germany. Wolf worked as a contract photographer for Stern magazine for eight years before focusing on his own projects in the early 2000s.  His work has been exhibited world wide and is held in many permanent collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Brooklyn Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago. Wolf won first prize in the World Press Photo Awards in 2005 and 2010. He has published 20 photo books.

Acknowledgements

Tokyo Compression is supported by Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Belfast City Council.