In the fall of 1971, Japanese photographer and cultural critic Takuma Nakahira (1938–2015)—lead editor of Provoke magazine and guiding figure of the “Provoke era” in postwar Japan—took part in the seventh edition of the Paris Biennale. He brought no existing work but instead created from scratch a visionary photo-performance titled Circulation. Every day for one week, Nakahira strolled the streets of Paris, taking pictures with a handheld camera; every evening the artist rapidly developed his negatives and just as quickly made prints, which he then glued to the wall inside the biennale hall.
Using a darkroom facility in the Art Institute that long lay dormant, the Department of Photography has recreated the 1971 installation of Circulation. The entirety of the pictures, printed chemically from the original negatives, are glued to the wall or laid on the floor as they were in Paris; even the photo-covered cinderblock “desk” is included, along with a selection of the vintage prints.