Tasmania is an island on the south coast of the Australian continent. Most of the island's magnificent temperate old growth forests are being cut down to export raw materials to Japanese paper companies. This wholesale destruction is masked by a tree-planting program: the local logging monopoly logs old growth forests and replants trees, as if that makes its actions sustainable and earth-friendly. Surprisingly, this practice is not illegal. Even more amazingly, the Japanese citizens who use all the paper produced by the logging, mainly computer paper, are not aware of the fact that they use 90 percent of the wood chips produced in Tasmania. Due to trans-national corporate practice of placing profit before principle and ignorance on the part of consumers, all the old growth forests on Tasmania will be converted into plantations in just a few years. Only the Tasmanian Wilderness, on the UNESCO list of world heritage sites, and a few other primitive areas secured on May 5, 2005, by the Tasmanian people after many years of effort, will remain. As the plantations replace the forests, the wild animals will change, as will the insects, microbes, and soil, until the rivers and the oceans also fall prey to the broken chain. As the chain of life goes, so do the souls of people.
Excerpt from his essay in the FOTOFEST2006 Catalogue.
MASAKI HIRANO Stumps of Silence: Tasmania
Stumps of Silence: Tasmania. In this work, Hirano photographs stumps and areas of clear cutting in Tasmanian old growth forests. The images are made up of many prints put together in mosaic form. Most of the magnificent temperate old growth forests are getting cut down to export raw materials to Japanese paper companies in the name of the tree-planting program. The local logging monopoly logs old growth forests and replants trees as if it is sustainable and earth-friendly. Surprisingly, this practice is not “illegal”. Even more amazingly, Japanese citizens who use all the paper production, mainly as computer papers, are not aware of the fact that the paper is made up of 90 % wood chips produced in Tasmania. Due to the combination of cross-border corporations’ continued attitude of profit before principle and ignorance of on the part of consumers, old growth forests will be converted into plantations in a few years.
Born 1952 in Yaesu, Masaki Hirano lives and works in Tokyo, Japan. Starting as an apprentice at Azabu Studio in 1976, Hirano established his own practice in 1986. In 1992 he participated in the Joint exhibition for young photographers at Sinjuku Konica Plaza. In 1993 he presented "After the Festival", his first solo exhibition at Ginza Nikon Salon. His later work included a series entitled "HOLES" which focuses on the shell-scarred walls of Bosnia Herzegovina another on problems created by land reclamation project at Isahaya Bay in Kyushu and others on the problems facing society in the post cold-war years. He has since exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in Croatia, Slovenia and Japan. In 2000, he published his first monograph Down The Road Of Life (Marino Cettina Gallery, Umag, Croatia). He participated 1st Berlen Photography Festival 2005 “After the Fact” at Martin Gropius Bau, in Berlin.
Masaki Hirano was one of sixty finalists for the PHOTOESPA 2006 Descubrimientos Prize. Over 2007 photographers participated.