A very special photo exhibition is taking place at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo. It’s an exhibition of landscapes and scenic views captured in Japan and Canada by Canadian photographers, Randy VanDerStarren and his son Spencer. But there is a twist to this series.
In each photo, there appears a white director’s chair with red fabric. Now upon first glance, you might think, “So why the chair? Most of these photos are stand-alone, beautiful landscapes. The chair’s presence only distracts the eye. In the case where the chair does fit in, it looks more like a travel advertisement.”
Well, the fact that it’s a director’s chair has meaning. Until two years ago, Randy was a company man in a financial group and giving presentations on retirement planning (if I recall the story correctly). Having studied film, Randy realized that his life had come so far from where he had hoped to be. So he took a chance and took direction of his life.
For the last two years, he and his son, Spencer have travelled across Canada (all 13 provinces and territories in 24 days!), and also travelled in Japan, Thailand, Turkey, Hong Kong, the U.S., and a few other countries. They are scheduled to revisit Turkey soon, and all this time, that director’s chair has gone with them.
The interesting thing is that the simple concept of “take charge of your life” represented by that chair has intrigued the hearts of many. They have a book due out on Indigo this summer, and Turkey is expecting to release a book of their soon-to-be-captured images also this summer. Their Tokyo exhibition, originally scheduled to end in April, has been extended to July because an important embassy official decided that the exhibition would be perfect for visiting dignitaries at an upcoming summit. They currently have an exhibition on in Toronto and will also host one in Hong Kong.
As anniversaries of countries relationships with Canada come up, more nations are taking interest in the director’s chair project, which, incidentally is entitled “Take Your Seat”, inviting us all to sit in the director’s chair of our own lives.
Though the exhibition was not yet ready to be opened to the public, I was most fortunate to be invited for a tour of the photos by Spencer, and we talked for a fair bit before I was then introduced to Randy. As I noted, the chair begins to take on more meaning as you look at the potential symbolism. Take for example the cows in Saskatchewan staring at the chair. They stand together in a heard, each aware of the chair’s existence yet none of them bold enough to step forward from the heard.
I’m very thrilled for this fortuitous opportunity to meet the VanDerStarren’s and receive an in-depth view into their exhibition!
Follow the project on Instagram at takeyourseat or visit the project online at takeyourseatonline.com.