“Ice Formation”, SOLO IV Exhibition, PULP Gallery

FotoFilmic is excited to conclude its first SOLO EXHIBITION AWARD series now taking place every fall by announcing the final SOLO IV Winner and Runners-Up juried by fame contemporary photography duo ALEX WEBB & REBECCA NORRIS WEBB! Talented photographers from no less than 19 different countries responded to this fourth call challenging the jurors Alex and Rebecca with the complex task of delving into a full-fledged, global picture of film and analogue practices today. After 3 weeks of intensive deliberations Alex and Rebecca chose to reward the following photographers:


APRIL 21 – MAY 20,2018

JURORS FOREWORD: Below are a few words of feedback from Jurors Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb on their choosing of the work of Ryota to win FotoFilmic’s fourth SOLO Exhibition Award:

“We’re most drawn to photographs that take us somewhere we’ve never been before. Sometimes it’s largely due to a unique subject matter; other times, it’s thanks to a particular way of seeing. More often than not, it’s a mix of the two.

In looking at Ryota Kajita’s photographs, we were initially struck by their minimalistic beauty. There is an otherworldly quality to these mysterious crystalline forms. Are they images from outer space? Or perhaps they’re macro photographs of cellular structures? Knowing that they’re natural ice formations from the lakes, ponds, and rivers of Alaska, only makes them all the more intriguing. Ultimately, the Japanese-Alaskan Kajita’s work suggests the uneasy beauty of the Far North—as transient as it is fragile—like our vulnerable planet in a time of global warming.”

— Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb

FOTOFILMIC FILM TALKS Interview #34: Read our interview (published April 7, 2018) with Ryota discussing many aspects of his analogue photographic practice, as well as influences and ultimate goals as a contemporary Alaskan-Japanese photographer.


Ryota Kaji Kajita is originally from Japan, completed his MFA degree in photography at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, worked at the University of Alaska Museum of the North as a collection photographer, and taught at the Joshibi University of Art and Design in Japan.

His photographs have been exhibited in the Japan Professional Photographers Society Exhibition (2011), Alaska’s Rarefied Light (2012, 2013 & 2015), The Aesthetica Art Prize (2012 & 2013), Aperture Summer Open (2014), Geo-Cosmos Content Contest (2014) of The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, FotoFilmic17 Winter Shortlist Show (2017) and other shows.

His photography series of “Ice Formation” is featured in the magazine “Photo Technique” (November/December 2012), ““ (August 2015), “城市画報-CITY ZINE-“ (January/Februray 2016), and is represented by Susan Spiritus Gallery in Newport Beach, California. His work became part of the Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs and The Alaska Contemporary Art Bank in 2013. He was selected for Blue Sky 2013 Pacific Northwest Photography Viewing Drawers Program (“Drawers”) of the Oregon Center for the Photographic Arts, and won the Grand Prize in ONWARD Compe ’13 International Photography Competition, the Student Abstract Category Award in 2013 American Aperture Awards (AX3), Juror’s Selection / Director’s Honorable Mention / Livebooks Website Award in Natural World 2014 Nation Wide Juried Photography Competition of the Center for Fine Art Photography in Colorado. He was chosen for a finalist of Lens Culture’s Earth Awards 2015 and CENTER Project Launch Grant Juror’s Choice recipient 2017 chosen by juror Mazie Harris, Assistant Curator, Department of Photographs, J. Paul Getty Museum.

His video documentary “Losing Ground” about Shishmaref Island’s severe erosion due to climate change, achieved the Cinema Committee Choice Award in Fairbanks Film Festival (2007), and was broadcast on the Alaska Shorts Program of Alaska One television (2012).

He has traveled to more than 50 remote Alaska villages by a two-seat, light aircraft and snowmobile for scientific research. He loves travelling, backpacking and cross-country skiing with a medium format film camera and always responds to the beauty of nature.

Artist Statement:

I began photographing the Ice Formations Series in 2010 and have continued to seek ice patterns that appear on the swamps, ponds, lakes and rivers of Interior Alaska. The patterns are mysterious and wondrous, delicate and ephemeral. They form quietly, change quickly and disappear while I find only a few. Each pattern is unique, and every season of ice formations is different. Going out and spending time on the ice over the past seven years, I feel the dynamic cycles of seasons as well as the changes in climate. I awaken to earth’s changes. The beautiful ice patterns are not intended for humans or other creatures to appreciate. They happen in nature. This makes me reflect on the wonders of nature and respect the environment. The beauty and wonder of everyday life is subtle, ephemeral and often too small to be noticed. Photography enables me to pay attention to those moments and subjects, take time to observe them and help me to understand my surroundings more intimately. Through photographs, nature reveals its subtle beauty to me. In the Ice Formations series, I hope to share these transient and small creations with others.

About the Series of Ice Formations
This series captures ice formations on the swamps, ponds, lakes and rivers of Interior Alaska. Many of the formations are frozen bubbles of gases such as methane and carbon dioxide trapped under ice. When water freezes, it turns into ice slowly from the surface and traps the gases. The bubbles and freezing temperatures create unique geometric patterns. The diameter of the ice formations in these photos range from 10 to 30 inches. Because methane gas is considered one of the fundamental causes of greenhouse effects, scientists in Alaska are researching these frozen bubbles in relation to the global climate change. The water also shows other beautiful patterns in fall and winter. Snow falls on lakes and rivers, freezes, melts, refreezes and creates unique organic patterns on ice. The vapor in the air freezes as frost and grows intricate ice crystals. I try to capture the beauty and the dynamic changes of water in nature. I use my medium format film camera and black and white film to capture these images, so that I scan the negative and tone digitally in Photoshop before creating prints on archival paper. Through the process of digital split-toning, the printed images have a slight tint of color. By minimizing colors, viewers can focus on the elegance of the forms and shading created by clear transparent ice and white frost.

Artist Statement
When autumn wanes and winter arrives in Fairbanks, Alaska, I happily head outside to explore ice. Winter’s first ice patterns become a magnetic subject for me. The window of time to find ice patterns is brief, because all surfaces on the ground will be covered once snow falls. Wandering and looking for ice reminds me of boyhood treasure hunting. I used to run out into the woods after school and explore places that made up my neighborhood. My footprints over unknown areas marked adventure and enjoyment of my childhood. Going out into nature was fun and uplifting enough to fulfill my youthful curiosity. As an adult, photographing ice has its roots in my childhood experiences. In this spirit I strive to know the environment at a deeper level. Genuine curiosity propels me to actively engage the place where I live. It is a conversation between nature and me. The photograph is the treasure I gather from my surroundings. I hope that the dynamic changes of water captured in the Ice Formation Series will guide viewers to feel connected to nature, inspire their curiosity of natural phenomena, and invite them to explore the geometric beauty in the details of the organic patterns. The vital dialogue between a person and their surroundings can develop their thoughts on how they live in the place perhaps allowing them to face bigger issues like global climate change. Everything – even if it appears to be insignificant – connects to larger aspects of our Earth.

Practice Statement:

It is a lifelong journey to explore the places I choose to live, and to build deep relationship between the places and myself. My film cameras are my travel companions in the pursuit of this philosophy. They are vital devices which enable me to document my activities, to record my findings and feelings, to produce photographs expressing my visions, and to share them with others. . The slowness of film photography enables me to carefully pay attention to precious moments and subtle subjects, and to take more time to observe them intimately. Through my photographs, I often discover things that I didn’t notice at the time I made them photographed. I then examine and revisit the subjects or locations again, and take more photographs. This repetition helps me to deepen my understanding of the place, to become fond of the place, and to be a part of the place. Furthermore, cameras allow me to catch a precious moment that will never happen again. No two days or moments are alike. Everything is constantly changing in our everyday life. Cameras are brilliant device to capture the fragileness and ephemeralness in our world.

Our surroundings are not intended to be beautiful. They just exist as they are. Human being, however, can find beauty in them. Not only that, everyone has a distinct sense of beauty. The difference brings about the uniqueness of each person. We value and enjoy the diversity. I would like to share my own surprise and happiness when I find beauty in the land where I live. I believe that the success of my work is entirely dependent on whether I can sublimate my personal aesthetics into universal beauty by the aid of camera and photography.


Congratulations as well to Japanese photographer Ikuru Kuwajima for coming very close to winning the last SOLO IV Award with his documentary series ‘In the Circle of Ruins’, 2011-2015 exploring the out-of-this-world and rarely seen contemporary post-Soviet landscapes of Central Asia, Siberia and Transvolga with a cinematic force of arresting, sometimes terrifying beauty!


After growing up in Japan, studying in journalism in the University of Missouri, Columbia, Ikuru Kuwajima has been living and working on photographic projects in various post-Soviet countries the past 10 years. He participated in various group exhibitions: Noorderlicht (2011), Venice Biennale’s Central Asian Pavilion (2013), Fotografia Europea (2016), Boutographies (France, 2017). His artist books “Tundra Kids” and “I, Oblomov” were published in Vienna in 2015 and in Moscow in 2017, respectably.

Artist Statement

In The Circle of Ruins

From 2011 to 2015, I took journeys to the center of Eurasia, the sparsely populated former Soviet territory formed by the vast steppes, deserts, mountains, forests and tundra, and I constantly passed by ruins of various periods and cultures, some of which are hidden under the soils. These ruins are the fragments of the legacies that belong to not only the Soviet but also a number of ethnic groups and tribes, of which cultures either ceased to exist or went through substantial changes due to the rises and falls of the various tribes, khanates and empires.

Today, there has been a rise of cultural and political nationalism among various ethnic groups in the area encompassing the geographical European-Asian border. Locals get inspired from old histories, legends and oral stories, resuming their old rituals and applying their ethnic symbols to local events and architecture, though the Soviet legacies still dominate the city and village landscapes, as well as the mentalities of the people.

The series of cultural reconstructions are, in fact, the fusions of the past and presence, with which their futures are being intertwined. Each ethnos is forming a new representation of a collective identity and culture from the ruins of history. Here in Central Asia, Siberia and Transvolga, time flows to the rhythm of not only the Soviet but also Imperial Russia, Middle Ages and even pre-historic time.

This part of Eurasia reminded me of Borges’s “The Circular Ruins,” in which a man arrives in a ruin to create another man out of his dream and send the creation to another ruin, only to realize before his death that he was also a creation of someone’s dream.

During the trips I encountered a great number of ruins, both figuratively and physically, often in the lap of nature like in Borges’s story. It felt as if I were moving from one place to another, from one ruin to another, from one dream to another, wondering in a large circle of great ruins in the dreams of various people from different periods of time in this enormous territory that never seemed to end.

Practice Statement

Film allows me to concentrate on the subjects I photograph. It allows me to previsualize the images, and over all the results are usually better, compared with shooting on digital. Also, I like the texture of the images on film.


Lastly we’re also pleased to congratulate Georgia photographer Clay Jordan for drawing high interest from the jurors with his series ‘Nothing’s Coming Soon’, a multi-faceted visual inventory of everyday life in the South shining a sublime light through existential greyness!


Clay Jordan is a photographer and musician who has exhibited widely both nationally and internationally. He currently resides in Athens, Georgia.

Artist Statement

Nothing’s Coming Soon

Rarely do I venture out with a topic or subject in mind — I usually drive until I see something that compels me to stop, analyze, and possibly photograph for later perusal and consideration. Over time, the editing process yields a series of images that coalesce into a body of work with specific themes or preoccupations, in this case: aging, mortality, fate, and thwarted expectations.

Practice Statement

Using film forces me to work in a measured, more contemplative manner. Because shooting with film is a more laborious process – as well as being more expensive – one is forced to slow down and make sure everything is correct (exposure, compensation, lighting, etc.) before pressing the shutter. I find my film photographs are often more successful and fully realized than my digital pictures because of the extra care taken.