Juror Interview: A Conversation with Masako Sato

As part of this year’s HARIBAN AWARD, we will be sharing interviews with this year’s jurors. This week, we spoke with Tokyo based curator, consultant and Founder of CONTACT TOKYO, Masako Sato.

Masako Sato graduated from Sophia University in Tokyo.  She has worked as a freelance translator and interpreter whilst organising various photography exhibitions. Founded Contact. Co., Ltd. in 2012, and has since organised and curated many travelling exhibitions of artists such as Robert Doisneau, Jacques Henri Lartigue, Shoji Ueda, Shigeo Gocho, and the first retrospective of Saul Leiter’s works in Tokyo Japan. We had the chance to sit down with Masako Sato to talk about her work and her hopes for this year’s  HARIBAN AWARD applicants.

You’ve been influential in bringing the works of photographers such as Saul Leiter and Jacques-Henri Lartigue to a Japanese audience. As a curator and facilitator of such exhibitions and publications, can you share with us the work that you do?

I have been curating photography-based exhibitions for Japanese museums through my company, CONTACT TOKYO. I negotiate with copyright holders or collection owners to realize exhibitions that were held overseas or photographers whom I want to introduce to Japan. My job is to handle contract management, contract selection, the decision of the venue, the arrangement of transport exhibition companies, editing of catalogues, etc., all necessary for organizing the exhibitions. Depending on the nature of each exhibition, I occasionally work with other curators, otherwise, I organize exhibitions in selecting and curating the works independently.

What would you say initially drew you to photography?

I majored in journalism at university, however, since I was interested in art, I also took curatorial classes. After graduating, I was hired by PPS, a photo agency, the company was getting involved in organizing photography exhibitions, and PPS was a pioneer of organizing photography exhibitions in Japan, such as Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Andre Kertesz, Alfred Stieglitz, Eugene Atget, Brassai, Ansel Adams, etc. In those days, it was mainly held at the department stores. I was lucky enough to be involved with artists whose works are an important part of photography’s history and my passion for photography grew throughout the years.

What do you think makes a great photo stand out?

A picture that you catches your attention or a picture you can look at for a long time, a picture that cannot distract your eyes, or a work that can draw out a number of stories from a single image.

What are the advantages of participating in a competition like the Hariban Award? 

The advantage is to be able to show your work to Jurors from various regions. When you are facing your own work by submitting to the competition, your eyes tend to become clearer or maybe the other way around. I also believe it will make a great opportunity to face the questions about why you create your works.

Do you have any advice for those who are looking to apply?

When I saw the works by previous winners, I found the special creativity of the artists and collotype’s materiality fused together in them. It is not a coincidence that the only active collotype studios in the world are in Kyoto. Kyoto is a city where craftsmen, their skills and tradition have been fused through a long history. In order to connect what has been handed over from the past to the future, I think it is necessary to have the energy of new perspectives according to each era. The winner of the Hariban Award will receive an invaluable opportunity to focus on making works with experienced craftsmen, I hope to see exciting works that will open up new possibilities for Collotype.

Enter Competition ➔







見る側を惹きつける写真にはどういった要素があると思いま すか?


ハリバンアワードのような写真コンペティションに参加する利点は何でしょうか? どのような作品を期待されていますか?




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