As a controversial Japanese photographer, Nobuyoshi Araki has always delivered a sensational punch throughout his long and prolific career. When you think of the name ‘Araki’, you automatically think of bondage, eroticism, sex and controversy but in his latest exhibition, Between Love and Death: Diary of Nobuyoshi Araki, there is a much greater focus on the themes of love and death, revealing the breadth and depth of his work.
The exhibition is part of the 6th edition of the Singapore International Photography Festival (SIPF) and is housed at Deck, the festival’s home ground, across their three gallery spaces. 131 of his, ‘shishashin’ or i-photography style works were selected from his huge collection and thoughtfully exhibited into four different bodies of work from 1963 to 2018 and displayed as a confessional visual diary. Driven by his relationship with his wife, Yoko, through love, her loss, his own ill health and a renewed vigour and desire for life, the exhibition reveals a different lens to his body of work. One which audiences, familiar with his notoriously titillating style, that redefined boundaries between public and private, will find provocative in a different way.
Sentimental Journey and Winter’s Journey are a powerful pair of interweaving stories. They are full of simple narratives of togetherness, sharing and love, counteracted by the powerful sense of absence in a lot of the images, disclosing his journey through love and the death of his beloved wife and muse, Yoko. Invoking a different response entirely, Subway Love offers a window into privacy in a public space. In the same way that Vivian Maier’s work instantly draws you, as a voyeur, into a story of your own making. Uganboshi, shows that Araki’s creative process is still alive and kicking. We feel his frustration and resentment at the loss of sight in his right eye through his smashed lense photography. Finally Tokyo Love, a collaboration with American photographer Nan Goldin, is bright, uplifting and full of hope and truth. Displaying portraits of Tokyo’s underground youth culture, shot in his Shinjuku studio in 1994, Goldin’s work is the perfect melody to Araki’s base guitar.
The power of this exhibition is in the simplicity of Araki’s portrayal of the everyday moments in life that are shared or experienced alone. It creates an understated, thoughtful, honest and deeply intimate portrayal of his experiences. You don’t have to be familiar with his work for this exhibition to resonate. Make it a priority on your SIPF calendar.
This year’s festival celebrates its tenth anniversary with Like You, Me and Everybody Else. SIPF Co-Founder and Festival Director, Gwen Lee said they are committed to, ‘nurturing the local photography community to reach international standards’. So this year showcases esteemed and emerging talent on the contemporary photographer’s scene. 11 exhibitions and 19 local artists are hosted across several different spaces. A total of 50 workshops, seminars, film screenings and opening parties, provide something for everyone interested in photography and the arts. The festival runs until 9th December, for more information on what to see and where, check out the exhibition and event schedule.
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