Review: Tokyo Flowers
Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki's erotic bondage portraits offer the viewer a disquietingly intimate look into the artist's private life
Overtly erotic, the images easily entice the viewer while simultaneously creating an air of unease. Araki has alluded to the connection he draws between eroticism and death, and this is exacerbated by the allure of the brooding choice of colors in both the portraits of the women and of the decaying or fully mature blooms.
A rather unexpected revelation is the intent behind this series of Araki's photos. Consistently concerned with representing those on the "margins" of society, Araki’s oeuvre often focuses on prostitutes, transvestites and strippers. This in itself is, of course, not inherently a problem, but his impetus behind binding women lends the series a rather different sentiment.
In an interview with French curator Jerome Sanse, Araki has stated that "I only tie up the body of a woman because I know I cannot bind her soul. Only a physical part of her can be bound. For me it is equivalent to embracing."
In a sense, these portraits seemed to represent his need for control and his desire to present this to the public. After discovering this, I looked at the portraits in a different light. I felt like I was participating a bit too closely in Araki's personal life and that it was perhaps strange to hang these images in a gallery.
My reactions led me to question Araki's motives behind the public display of his work. He photographs women who he has bound and slept with, and then displays them for the world to see. There's not doubt that he understands the importance of layout, color and form in his photographs, but the formalistic attributes of photography don't seem to be a primary concern. Could his photographs be meant to make the audience feel queasy, as if we are participating in Araki's own voyeuristic and sexual tendencies towards those living on the margins of society?
American photographer Nan Goldin, who's also renowned for her representations of the marginalized, took interest in Araki's work and traveled to Tokyo to experience his subject matter. Their artistic cooperation points to a possible link between the motives of both artists in showing that the viewer is just as conceptually involved in the process and sentiments behind their work. Therefore, although the artist must be a voyeur in order to produce the work, so are those who chose to view the photographs.
If you do go to see this exhibit, watch out for the "film noir" influenced portrait of the women languishing in a death-like pose on a set of stairs. Its morbid-yet-beguiling air sums up in a flash the mood, intent and impact of Tokyo Flowers.
• Tokyo Flowers is on display at Langhans Galerie Praha until February 19th, 2006
Video on YouTube
Malá Inventura celebrates new theater by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV
New productions and new trends are in the 15th edition of the festival
Opera review: Viva La Mamma by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV
Comic staging of an obscure work is aimed at a new generation
Divadlo na Vinohradech to be renovated by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV
The theater at náměstí Míru will be closed for a complete overhaul
Army Museum at Žižkov to get renovated by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV (Foto: Prague.eu)
Building will be closed for three years for large expansion
National Theatre presents a new staging of Tosca by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV
The classic opera is back with an updated but subtle production
Prague 1 plans gold pavilion for Mucha paintings by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV (Foto: arpema.cz)
City Hall and the Prague 1 district have conflicting ideas for the Slav Epic
Plácido Domingo will conduct Don Giovanni by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV (Foto: Raymond Johnston)
Two special performances will mark the 230th anniversary of the premiere in Prague
Live simulcast of Amadeus coming to Aero and Oko by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV
The play that inspired the film is currently on the stage in London
Prime minister inspects National Museum progress by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV (Foto: nm.cz)
The museum should partially open to the public in October 2018
Czech-Chinese dance work to premiere at Archa by Raymond Johnston - Prague.TV (Foto: Divadlo Archa)
Ordinary People finds similar life stories in dancers from different countries
Don’t miss out on historical low Czech mortgage rates!
Prague Airport Transport: Private, Shuttle & Limo-service!
Your cheapest calls home!
Have fun. Help. Volunteer overseas - Let us organize your...
First diamonds museum in Prague
Trabant Museum @ STK Motol
Armádní muzeum Žižkov
Národní památník hrdinů heydrichiády