artist, author, producer (art & culture)
With one of her images gracing the official poster of the 2006 Venice Biennale – Dance Section as well as the cover of the Graphis Annuals (Switzerland/U.S.A.), Ito’s crossover work — that transcends the boundaries between genders, cultures, and genres — is the outcome of her own spiritual and artistic quest throughout Germany, Japan and the U.S.A.
Since 9/11, Miro Ito has been involved in media and art projects as producer & creator with the artistic aspiration to promote peace and understanding through her own initiatives via MEDIA ART LEAGUE, while preparing the impending NPO launch in New York in 2018.
🔸World heritage of life and prayer
Under the theme “World heritage of life and prayer”, Ito has been working to promote awareness of ancient Asian/Eurasian cultural heritage and traditions preserved in Japan — in order to create messages for lasting peace — focusing on the profound spiritual side of both the tangible and the intangible UNESCO World Heritage which she has been photographing/filming, researching, and writing about in Japan (centered on Nara) since 2003.
On occasion of the United Nations Day of Vesak 2016, Ito held an exhibition at the United Nations HQ in New York. This exhibition entitled “Road of Light and Hope: Photo Exhibition of National Treasures of Japan”, is the culmination of what she has been striving for all these years.
A subsequent and more extensive touring exhibition & screening series, “Road of Light and Hope” was followed by additional presentations at venues including: Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan (Tashkent), The Council of Europe as well as lieu d’Europe (Strasbourg) in 2016, Japan Foundation Toronto, Consulate General of Japan (Chicago) in 2017 with the kind support of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and JCII (Japan Camera Industry Institute).
The next venues will be the Japanese Embassies in Washington D.C and Ottawa respectively, whereby the latter is in the context of the 90th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between Canada and Japan which is being commemorated in 2018.
Alongside the exhibition “Road of Light and Hope”, Ito embarked on the academic lecture circuit starting at renowned academic institutions such as the University of Chicago. This exhibition & screening series along with lecture events will visit many more cities around the globe to show the links in the cultural origins of East and West along —and transcending— the Silk Road, presenting invaluable examples and inspirations for the unity and solidarity of mankind.
A film project under the same title is also being produced, which will present some of the evidence for the links between ancient art & cultures as well as philosophical/religious teachings spanning the Silk Road from Rome to Nara across the Eurasian continent for more than twenty centuries.
Previously in late 2010, she already held an exhibition (Road of Light: Ancient Route of Prayer and Dedicatory Arts in Asia) including two film shorts at the 2010 Canon EXPO (Tokyo) and at the official commemorative event of the 1300th Anniversary of the founding of Nara (Japan) as imperial capital.
🔸Signs of the Intangible
Ito’s other ongoing project is “Signs of the Intangible: Visions of Life and Prayers”, part of which was shown at the NY Public Library for Performing Arts (Lincoln Center) under the title: Men at Dance − from Noh to Butoh: Japanese Performing Arts, Past and Present in 2007/2008. This was a tie-in exhibition to the 2007 NY Butoh Festival and individual exhibits were donated to the permanent collection of the NY Public Library for educational and research purposes.
As 10 years have passed since then, it is being expanded into a more extensive exhibition to introduce the origin of the performing arts tradition surviving in Japan for 14 centuries as religious rituals, from Gigaku, Bugaku to Noh, and including contemporary forms of performing arts such as Butoh.
It includes hints of Hellenistic visions reflected in some of the most magnificent Tenpyo Era Buddhist sculptures and National Treasures of Japan from the 8th century.
Showing those sculptures as well as Gigaku and Bugaku masks as “icons of unity” with their significant diversity born of an ancient cosmopolitanism transcending the Silk Road, both “Signs of the Intangible” and the “Road of Light and Hope” series are linked.
The exhibition is planned to start from Toronto (followed by several countries in South America) and travel around the globe, accompanied by a prospective new film short, “Takigi Noh Performance at Kasuga Taisha-Kofukuji in Nara — The Origins of the Noh Theater” (tentative) which is now in the planning stage.
🔸Germany, Japan and U.S.A.
Having so far participated in a wide variety of notable projects — ranging from fine art, publications, documentary to digital art, Ito’s profile has appeared in prominent magazines in Germany, USA and Japan. Petersen’s Photographic magazine (USA) once described her as “a painter of light” and Eyes for Excellence, a feature on her was included on the PIC’s (Photo imaging Information Council) official website.
After majoring in Aesthetics and Fine Art History at Tokyo’s Keio University, Ito studied Philosophy (Ruhr-University Bochum) as well as Photography and Applied Art (Essen Gesamthochschule [the successor of the renowned Folkwang Schule / currently: University of Duisburg-Essen]), while concurrently embarking on her path as a photo-artist and art pundit in Germany, where she also was a member of the German Federation of Journalists (DJV).
Since 2001 she is a permanent resident of the U.S.A., where she is a member of the New York Art Directors Club, in addition to the Photographic Society of Japan.
🔸Artist As Author
Ito has a long career as artist and author as well. She is author/editor of eight books, including a photo essay on rituals of the most representative temples and shrines comprising the World Cultural Heritage Site in Nara: “Kokorono Sumika Nara: Inochi no Kongen Narumono to no Deai (literally: Encounter with the fundamentals of life in Nara)” published by Randomhouse Kodansha in 2010. Her photo text book entitled “Miseru Shashinjutsu (literally: Enthralling Photography)” was selected for inclusion in the official reading list for Japanese public libraries by The Japan Library Association, 2007.
Her most recent book is “Nihon no Kamon to Seishi: Dentohbi to Keifu (literally: Encyclopedia of Japanese Family Crests — 1400 Years of Beauty & Tradition)” in 2013.
Ito’s recent academic essay is about Yasuhiro Ishimoto, An Eye for Generating Moments, published in the exhibition catalogue of the Museum & Library of Musashino Arts University in 2009.
Ito also had three exhibitions about documentary works of renowned kyogen master, Mannojo Nomura V. whose tribute photo book, “ManzaiRaku” was published in 2004.
Her essays and critiques on subjects ranging from art & photography, cultural heritage & traditions as well as architecture and urban design, to intercultural/aesthetic issues have so far appeared in numerous notable specialty magazines and books.
🔶Media & Art Projects after 9/11
Following the tragedy of 9/11, Ito committed herself to create her own messages from New York for Japan’s news media, from which the exhibition: Miro Ito’s Letters from New York: Message by Heartist of Words and Photographs* (2002), was culled and shown as part of the solo exhibition series Women Only (together with Japan’s first female Minister of Justice and former Minister of Culture, Mayumi Moriyama). With her healing images, Ito was invited to hold a lecture for the PWP (Professional Women Photographers) in New York, 2001. (*literal translation from Japanese)
Reminiscent of communications theorist Marshall McLuhan who postulated that “the medium is the message”, Ito aspires to create cross-media projects (media art/film, books, exhibitions, etc.) to promote her quest, “East meets West” through MEDIA ART LEAGUE, a creative mind & heart forum linking artists/creators, media-specialists /professionals and cultural/intellectual personages and opinion leaders/philanthropists in Japan, Europe and the Americas.
(Last update: January, 2018)
※ Further profile of Miro Ito: click following listing.
−”The Great Buddha Lives!”, “Gigaku: Road of Masks”, and “Life of Masks–Bugaku at Ka- suga-taisha Shrine and Wakamiya Onmatsuri Festival” were shown at the Japan Foun- dation, Toronto, during the “Artist’s Talk”, accompanying the exhibition, “Road of Light and Hope”, May 2017.
−”Life of Masks–Bugaku at Kasuga-taisha Shrine and Wakamiya Onmatsuri Festival” is being shown at the Kasuga-taisha Shrine’s Kokuhoukan Treasure House since September 2016.
−”The Great Buddha Lives!” (Written, photographed and directed by Miro Ito, Editorial supervision: Tōdaiji Temple) is being shown at the Tōdaiji Museum since 2011.
− “Gigaku: Road of Masks” (Written, photographed and directed by Miro Ito, Editorial supervision: Tōdaiji Temple, Music: Sukeyasu Shiba) is being shown at the Tōdaiji Museum since 2012.
− “The Great Buddha Lives!” was shown at the Tōdaiji Temple Cultural Center, 2010 (as part of The 7th Great Buddha Symposium).
− Commemorative Event of 1300th Anniversary of Heijō-kyo (Nara), Japan’s 1st Imperial Capital + Canon EXPO, Tokyo, 2010.
“The Great Buddha Lives!”
“Life of Masks–Bugaku at Kasuga-taisha Shrine and Wakamiya On-matsuri Festival“
Exhibitions / Collections
🔶Representative Solo Exhibitions
-“Road of Light and Hope -National Treasures of Todai-ji Temple, Nara”, Japan Information Center, Consulate General of Japan, Chicago, November 2017 in commemoration of its 120-year history (co-organized by: Consulate General of Japan, Chicago ,Media Art League, Japan Camera Industry Institute) .
-“Road of Light and Hope: Cosmopolitanism Embodied in the Vairocana Buddha of the Tôdai-ji Temple – Photo Exhibition of National Treasures of Japan”: UN Headquarters, New York, on occasion of the United Nations Day of Vesak 2016 (co-organized by: Permanent Mission of Japan to the U.N., Media Art League Japan Camera Industry Institute).
-“Men at Dance – From Noh to Butoh: Japanese Performing Arts, Past and Present“: New York Public Library for Performing Arts, Lincoln Center (2007 – 2008) as tie-in exhibition to the 2007 NY Butoh Festival (supported by Consulate General of Japan in New York).
– “Road of Light and Hope: National Treasures of Todai-ji Temple, Nara – Photographs by Miro Ito”, co-organized by the Japan Foundation, Toronto / Media Art League / Japan Camera Industry Institute, the Japan Foundation, Toronto, Canada, 2017).
– “Road of Light and Hope (Photo exhibition of National Treasures and Important Cultural Property of Japan)”, co-organized by the Council General of Japan in Strasbourg /Media Art League / Japan Camera Industry Institute, the Council of Europe + Le lieu d’Europe, Strasbourg, 2016).
– “Road of Light and Hope: The Eternal Cosmopolitanism Weaving Along the Silk Road (Photo exhibition of National Treasures and Important Cultural Property of Japan)”, co-organized by the Academy of the Arts of Uzbekistan / Japan Camera Industry Institute, the International Caravanserai of Cultures of Ikuo Hirayama, Tashkent, 2016).
– “Road of Light: Ancient Route of Prayer and Dedicatory Arts in Asia”, Canon EXPO, Tokyo, 2010.
– “Masks, Performance, Life’s Energy: Visitor from Past and Future – featuring Mannojo Nomura” on the 1st anniversary of his death, Canon S Tower, Tokyo, and two other venues, 2005.
– “Mannojo Nomura’s NipponGaku -Traditional Japanese Dance and Performance“, Japan Camera Industry Institute (joint exhibition series with Mayumi Moriyama, Chairperson of JCII, & Japanese Minister of Justice [2001 – 03], Minister of Education [1992-93]), Tokyo, 2004.
– “Monochrome Digital Bodyscapes“, Canon Salon (Tokyo / Osaka / Nagoya), 2003.
– “Mannojo Nomura’s Mask Road“, Japan Camera Industry Institute (same as above), Tokyo, 2003.
– “Miro Ito’s Letters from New York: Message by Heartist in Words and Photographs”, Japan Camera Industry Institute (same as above), Tokyo, 2002.
– “… in transition: Elegant Encounter of Photography and Digital Technology“, Japan Camera Industry Institute (same as above), Tokyo, 1998.
– “Naked Equinox” (exhibition during The Tokyo Month of Photography), Canon Salon, in five major cities in Japan, 1996.
– “Woman to Woman” at Zeit-Foto Salon, Tokyo, 1988.
– “Butoh : Encounter with the Flower Named Body“, Japanese Culture Week in Frankfurt,Germany, 1997.
– “Esoteric Incantations (B/W version)” at Grauwert Gallery, Hamburg (as part of The Summer of Photography program in the context of the 150th Anniversary of Photography), 1989.
– “Esoteric Incantations (Compositions of colour and light interacting with the female mystique)” exhibited by Bronica, Photokina ’88 (World Photography Show), Cologne, 1988.
– “Japanese Body Language” at Linhof Gallery, Munich, 1987.
– “ … a female dimension” at Grauwert Gallery, Hamburg, 1987.
– “Female Sequences” at Musisches Zentrum (Fine Arts Center), Ruhr-University, Bochum, Germany, 1986.
🔶Representative International Group Exhibitions
– “Dedication of Flowers (Kenka)” exhibition by 15 Japanese and U.S. women photographers in commemoration of the Heisei Restoration of the Kondō of Tōshōdaiji Temple”, Tokyo National Museum, 2005.
– NHK’s “Exhibition of the Heart” (50 Poems and 50 Works of Art), Bunkamura, Tokyo, 1998.
– “The Third Kind”, Melkweg Foundation, Amsterdam, 1998.
– “Angels”, Melkweg Foundation, Amsterdam, 1996.
New York Public Library for Performing Arts, Japan Camera Industry Institute (JCII), Tōdaiji Museum, Kasuga-taisha Kokuhoukan Treasure House, Melkweg Foundation, Zeit-Foto
Books / Essays / Catalogues / Digital Media
🔶Solo Book Projects
– “Encyclopedia of Japanese Family Crests: 1400 Years of Beauty & Tradition (Nihon no Kamon to Seishi: Dentohbi to Keifu)“, Seibundo Shinkosha Publishing, 2013 (Japan)
– “Photographer’s Bible: (Cutting-Edge Photography: Themes, Composition, Lighting & Fine-tuning)” (all text & photos), Seibundo Shinkosha Publishing, 2012 (Japan)
– “Heart of Photography: Rules and Aesthetics in Photography (Gokui de manabu Shashin gokoro)” (all text & photos), Film Art, 2011 (Japan)
– “Encounter with the Fundamentals of Life in Nara (Kokorono Sumika Nara – Inochino Kongen Narumono to no Deai )” (all text & photos), Random House Kodansha, 2010 (Japan)
– “Miseru Shashinjjutsu (Enthralling Photography: Theme, Composition, Technique)” (all text & photos), selected for inclusion in The Japan Library Association’s official reading list), MdN Corporation, 2007 (Japan)
– “ManzaiRaku : Mannojo Nomura + Miro Ito” (photographs/text by M. Ito), Nippon Camera, 2004 (Japan)
– “The Art of Photography in the Digital Era: Views on Photography in the future” (Digital jidai no Shashinjutsu) “(co-authored), 2000 (Japan)
– “European Visions of Sensuality” Photobook which was followed by an exhibition at Melkweg Foundation, in Amsterdam (text & editing), Seibundo Shinkosha Publishing, 1995 (Japan)
– “NYMPHS – Masterpieces of 8 Japanese Top Star Photographers” (with seven other contributing photographers, Seibundo Shinkosha Publishing, 1995 (Japan)
🔶Other Books & Catalogues
– “Photographs and Haiku Poems dedicated to Ganjinwajo and Vairocana Buddha of Tōshōdaiji Temple“/Catalogue Edition for “Dedication of Flowers” exhibition, 2005 (Japan)
– “Computer & Design” (edited by JAGDA: Japanese Graphic Designers Association), 2002 (Japan)
– Catalogue Edition for NHK’s “Exhibition of the Heart”, 1999 (Japan).
– “SENSUAL IMAGES – 100 of the World’s Top Photographers Interpret Sensual Beauty“, PIE Books, 1994 (Japan)
– “DUMONT’S LEXIKON DER FOTOGRAFIE“, 1992 (Germany)
– “PHOTOGRAPHIE IN HAMBURG/Int’l Catalogue Edition” for “The Summer of Photography in Hamburg”, 1989 (Germany)
– “Contemporary Photography in Japan 2000” (Japan)
– “Contemporary Photography in Japan 1998” (Japan)
– “100 Japanese Digital Image Creators /i-magazine, Dec. 1999” (Japan)
– “100 Japanese Digital Image Creators /i-magazine, March 1998” (Japan)
– “100 JAPANESE PHOTOGRAPHERS, Selection II“, Geometric Synergy Corporation, 1996 (Japan)
– “ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PHOTOGRAPHERS VOL.1 – Nude/Private Works“, Mizuki, 1994 (Japan)
Publications / Lectures
🔶Representative Publications in the United States
– “Graphis Photo” (Cover/ Annual 2003)
– “Studio Photography & Design” (3 page feature, July 2000 issue)
– “American Photo (On Campus)” (2 page spread, Nov. 2000 issue)
– “Petersen’s Photographic” (4 page feature, Jan. 2001 issue)
🔶Representative Publications in Photography Specialty Magazines in Japan / Europe
(except media related assignments)
– “Asahi Camera / Jan. 2012” (10 pp., Japan)
– “Asahi Camera / Jan. 2010” (7 pp., Japan)
– “Asahi Camera / Oct. 2008” (8 pp., Japan)
– “Nippon Camera / Dec. 2006” (4 pp., Japan)
– “Nippon Camera / Dec. 2004” (6 pp., Japan)
– “Cameraman / June 2004” (2 pp., Japan) ; “Cameraman/ April 2004″(4 pp., Japan)
– “Commercial Photo – Digital Printing Technology / 2004” (3 pp., Japan)
– “Nippon Camera / May 2003” (4 pp., Japan)
– “Commercial Photo / April 2003” (2 pp., Japan)
– “Cameraman / July 2000” (2 pp., Japan)
– “Quest of Leica (Leica no Tankyu)”, 1999 (9 pp., Japan)
– “Digital Photo technique # 5”, 1998 (4 pp., Japan)
– “Digital Photo technique # 2”, 1996 (Cover photo & 12 page feature, Japan)
– “Foto/ Dec. 1996” (The Netherlands)
– “Photographie / June1996” (Cover photo & 4 page feature, Germany/Switzerland)
– “Colorfoto / July 1994” (4 pp., Germany)
– “Cameraman / May 1994” (7 page feature, Japan)
– “Commercial Photo / Nov.1992” (11 page feature, Japan)
– “Asahi Camera / Nov.1989” (5 pp., Japan)
– “fotoMAGAZIN / June 1988” (4 pp., Germany)
– “Photographie / June1988” (2 pp., Germany/Switzerland)
-“Visual and Material Perspectives on East Asia”, Department of Art History, University of Chicago, 2017 (USA)
-“Photography of Todaiji Sculptures: “Art as Media is a Message for Universality”, Arts & Letters Hall, DePaul University, Chicago, 2017 (USA).
-“Artist Talk”, an affiliated event to the exhibition, “Road of Light and Hope”, Japan Foundation, Toronto, May 2017 (Canada)
– Lecture commemorating Ito’s book publication (Gokui de manabu Shashin gokoro by Film Art), Yaesu Book Center, 2012 (Japan)
– Creative lecture for designers and product design staff of MAZDA, Mazda Research Center, 2003 (Japan)
– Academic session & presentation of Ito’s thesis “Analogue Recollections in a Digital Cosmos” at the IAEA (International Association of Empiric Aesthetics) International Congress, Takarazuka University of Art and Design, 2002 (Japan)
– “Photographing Women”: Lecture & Slide-show for American Women Photographers Association (PWP), Air Gallery, New York, 2001
Prize / Video Screening / TV Appearance
LONDON International Advertising Award Finalist (Category: Print Media / Client: CANON / Project: Identity in N.Y./ Nominated as Photographer), 2001.
Video Screening Event organized by “BRUTUS” magazine (Hadaka no Zettai Ondo ON SCREEN) ― Miro Ito (Box Higashi Nakano, 1995).
NEXT STAGE / BS Japan ― 11 min. broadcast: New York wa ima (literally, “What now, New York City?”), photography & poems by Miro Ito (MC: Ken’ichi Shimomura), 5th October, 2001 (Japan).
Tomoni ikiru asu (literally, “Living Together Tomorrow”) / NHK Education TV― “Heart Monogatari” (literally, Story of the Heart), introducing Miro Ito’s image for NHK’s “Exhibition of the Heart”, 1999 (Japan).
TONIGHT 2 / TV Asahi: “Ishoku no Joryu Shashinka – Ito Miro” (literally, Unique Woman Photographer―Miro Ito), featuring her exhibition, profile & portfolio, interview, documentary of shooting session at her atelier, 12 min. broadcast: 1998 (Japan).
AXEL /TV Asahi: Digital Network, interview of Miro Ito, introducing her portfolio, 1997 (Japan)