Visual Arts Centre

Celebrating Life by Toshi Kazama

21 October to 22 October 2017


It is said that we find the true precious value of life only in the reflection of death, in all its forms. Come join us for a weekend of reflection on this veteran photographer’s work which asks us if there is any value in killing a human being. Does it contradict our desire to celebrate life and to live it?

About the exhibition:

Toshi Kazama’s subjects mostly stare straight into the lens or show their profile, looking at distant sources of light. Some are smiling shyly, others look serious or absent-minded. Despite their varying backgrounds, they have one thing in common: They are all juvenile offenders on death row. Toshi Kazama is firmly opposed to the death penalty and has now been campaigning against it through his work since 1996, when he embarked on this unusual project, meeting and photographing juvenile death row inmates in the United States and Asia.

Twenty searing black-and-white photographs will be on display at Celebrating Life exhibition, including images of the young death-row inmates, execution chambers, as well as family members of people who were killed and who have reached out to the killers.

Exhibition View


A chance photographic project assignment for former United States Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor changed the life of New York-based Japanese photographer Toshi Kazama forever.  The assignment piqued his curiosity and resulted in his first photo session with a young American on death row for two counts of murder. Despite considerable trepidation, the ‘monster’ he expected to meet turned out to be a normal-looking child with extremely limited intelligence.  As Kazama saw this young boy in front of him, “I couldn’t resist shaking his hand, as I do with all my subjects. Then I hugged him. That changed my life forever. I felt that if I were to neglect his life, I would be neglecting my own life”.

His photographs are always black and white, stark and bare, focused on the instruments of state-sponsored execution or on those waiting for their lives to be ended.  A former commercial photographer, Kazama has now dedicated his life to the abolition of the death penalty.

Exhibition Details

From 21 October to 22 October, Celebrating Life exhibition by New York-based photographer Toshi Kazama will open at Visual Arts Centre.

Capturing the intimate portraits of people on death row and the methods of execution, Kazama brings an unflinchingly personal look into the realities of this system and its form in the USA and Taiwan.


Focus on Life: A Photography Workshop

Join Toshi Kazama as he walks us through his art, and his inspiration behind crafting each image. Suitable for photography enthusiasts and photographers regardless of skill level.

October 20, 6PM – 8PM, at Visual Arts Centre Exhibition Gallery. Snacks and refreshments will be served.

Through registration only:


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