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Media Release

For Immediate Release | May 8, 2019

Coexistences: Portraits of Today’s Japan

Discover the lesser-known communities of contemporary Japan through documentary photographer Laura Liverani’s exhibition, Coexistences: Portraits of Today’s Japan, and its accompanying event series. The free program will shine the spotlight on six communities and explores individual belonging and collective identity within the wider Japanese community. Presented by and held at The Japan Foundation, Sydney, the Coexistences event program runs until June 21, 2019.

Liverani’s exhibition is a collection of six portraiture series, telling the stories of full-body spandex suit enthusiasts, elderly cheerleaders, a school for senior models, women sumo wrestlers, tobi construction workers and Hokkaido’s indigenous Ainu population. The people of every community portrayed, however distant from one another, all share a strong sense of group identity.

In an artist talk, Liverani will provide greater context on the featured communities, share stories of her subjects and reveal the documentation processes of her photographic works. She will also be present in the gallery to offer intimate guided visits on specific days.

On separate occasions, two subjects featured in the exhibition will represent their communities and share an insider’s perspective on their group identity. Female sumo wrestler, Jyuri Beniya, will talk about her day-to-day encounters, as well as her experiences as a woman competing in a male-dominated sport. Maya Sekine of Ainu heritage will share the personal and collective experiences of members of Japan’s indigenous population.

Wrapping up the event program is a screening of a newly released documentary film, Ainu: Indigenous People of Japan. Through the stories of four elders, this film sheds light on Ainu traditions, both past and present, and the efforts made to preserve Ainu culture in Japan.


Coexistences: Portraits of Today’s Japan

Runs until June 21, 2019

This photo exhibition is a selection of documentary photographer Laura Liverani’s works. Featuring six separate portrait series,  the exhibition shines the light on lesser-known communities that exist alongside mainstream Japanese society and highlights the stories of individuals and their expression of identity; broadening our knowledge of Japanese everyday life and culture.

About the exhibition



Thursday, May 9 | 6:30pm-7:30pm

Japan-based Italian photographer Laura Liverani will share her interest in unveiling six lesser-known Japanese communities and discuss how she documents this process through photographic portraiture.

About the talk



Wednesday, May 8 | 10am-12pm
Saturday, May 11 | 2pm-4pm

Documentary photographer Laura Liverani will be present in the gallery to talk about her works and answer questions on her ongoing photography practice.

About the events



Tuesday, May 21 | 6:30pm-7:30pm

Maya Sekine is of Ainu heritage and her community and home is in Nibutani, a small village in the town of Biratori in Hokkaido, Japan. Nibutani’s population of around 400 people is of approximately 80% Ainu descent. Sekine will be interviewed by Sally McLaren, a journalist and academic specialising in Japanese society and culture. The interview will reflect upon Sekine’s personal and collective experiences as a member of Japan’s indigenous population, and her experience as a subject in the current exhibition.

About the event



Thursday, May 30 | 6:30pm-7:45pm

Hear firsthand the experiences of female sumo wrestler, Jyuri Beniya, one of the subjects featured in the exhibition. Beniya is one of the nine female members of the Asahi University Sumo Club in Mizuho, a city located in Japan’s Gifu Prefecture. In an interview with Sally McLaren, Beniya will share her stories as a woman competing in a male-dominated sport and her experiences within her small community of fellow female athletes. The event will also include a brief demonstration of techniques and rituals as an introduction to the art of sumo wrestling.

About the talk



Thursday, June 6 | Starts 6:30pm

Hokkaido, the northern-most island of Japan has been the home of the indigenous Ainu people of Japan for generations. Over the years, the Ainu population has been experiencing a decline with now less than 20,000 indigenous people living in Hokkaido. Much of the culture has been lost due to policies implemented in 1869 which saw mass assimilation and development of native land.

Through the stories of four elders, this documentary sheds light on Ainu traditions, both past and present, and the efforts made to keep Ainu culture alive in Japan.

About the film


Laura Liverani is a photographer and lecturer based between Tokyo and Italy. After completing an MA in Arts and Media at the University of Bologna and in Photographic Studies at the University of Westminster in London, Laura has been working internationally on self-initiated projects and commissions. Her work has been featured in magazines, books, exhibitions and festivals in Asia and Europe. In 2015 she was awarded the Premio Voglino grant for her long term series on the indigenous population of Northern Japan Ainu Neno An Ainu. Her photography on Ainu has been exhibited in Tokyo.

Laura was exclusively assigned by Iperborea the photography for The Passenger- Giappone, a magazine book that has proved an editorial success in Italy.

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Gallery & Event Times

See individual event pages for details.


The Japan Foundation, Sydney
Level 4, Central Park
28 Broadway, Chippendale NSW 2008


Free entry to exhibition and events. No bookings required.

Media Enquiries

Jessica Chow
(02) 8239 0055

General Enquiries

(02) 8239 0055

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