Zen Archery

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Japanese Archery (Kyudo)
Kyoto, Japan


In 1948 German philosopher Eugen Herrigel published “Zen in the Art of Archery.”  A copy was given to Henri Cartier-Bresson by painter George Braque.  The book became a veritable handbook for Cartier-Bresson and subsequent generations of photographers who aspired to find deeper meaning in an art that was considered second rate next to painting or drawings.  Though I wondered, how many photographers have actually seen Kyudo in person?  I had not.


This body of work steps inside the archers space to reveal the experience of “aiming at one’s self.”  In the end Herrigel concludes that, “He must become a pupil again, a beginner; conquer the last and steepest stretch of the way and undergo new transformations.”


Yet the book contains almost no photographs and the experience of Kyudo remains distant.  Cartier-Bresson eventually went to Japan and experienced the craft first hand.  This project looks to connect the visual and philosophical practices into a unified experience.

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