┐ Yayoi Kusama └

200© Yayoi Kusama, Silver Squid Dress, 1968-9

kusama053© Yayoi Kusama, Self-Portrait, 1962

Kusamas-Self-Obliteration-Horse-Play1© Yayoi Kusama, Horse Play

Self-ObliterationByDots© Yayoi Kusama, Self-Obliteration By Dots, 1968. Photo © Hal Reiff

nytriangle© Yayoi Kusama, photography copyright © Harrie Verstappen

“Rather than confirming the ontological coherence of the body-as-presence, body art depends on documentation, confirming-even exacerbating-the supplementarity of the body itself. Predictably, although many have relied on the photograph, in particular, as “proof’ of the fact that a specific action took place or as a marketable object to be raised to the formalist height of an “art” photograph, in fact such a dependence is founded on belief systems similar to those underlying the belief in the “presence” of the bodyin- performance. Kristine Stiles has brilliantly exposed the dangers of using the photograph of a performative event as “proof’ in her critique of Henry Sayre’s book The Object of Performance. Sayre opens his first chapter with the nowmythical tale of Rudolf Schwarzkogler’ss uicidal self-mutilation of his penis in 1966, a story founded on the circulation of a number of “documents” showing a male torso with bandaged penis (a razor blade lying nearby). Stiles, who has done primary research on the artist, points out that the photograph, in fact, is not even of Schwarzkogler but, rather, of another artist (Heinz Cibulka) who posed for Schwarzkogler’se ntirely fabricated ritual castratio.

Sayre’s desire for this photograph to entail some previous “real” event (in Barthesian terms, the having been there of a particular subject and a particular action)leads him to ignore what Stiles describes as “the contingency of the document not only to a former action but also to the construction of a wholly fictive space.”23 It is this very contingency that Sayre’s book attempts to address through his argument that the shift marked by performance and body art is that of the “site of presence” from “art’s object to art’s audience, from the textual or plastic to the experiential.”24 Sayre’s fixation on “presence,” even while he acknowledges its new destabilized siting in reception, informs his unquestioning belief in the photograph of performance as “truth.”

Rosalind Krauss has recognized the philosophical reciprocity of photography and performance, situating the 16 two as different kinds of indexicality. As indexes, both labor to “substitute the registration of sheer physical presence for the more highly articulated language of aesthetic conventions.”25A nd yet, I would stress, in their failure to “go beyond” the contingency of aesthetic codes, both performance and photography announce the supplementarity of the index itself. The presentation of the self-in performance, in the photograph, film, or video-calls out the mutual supplementarity of the body and the subject (the body, as material “object” in the world, seems to confirm the “presence” of the subject; the subject gives the body its significance as “human”), as well as of performance or body art and the photographic document. (The body art event needs the photograph to confirm its having happened; the photograph needs the body art event as an ontological “anchor” of its indexicality.)”

in “Presence” in Absentia: Experiencing Performance as Documentation by Amelia Jones
Source: Art Journal, Vol. 56, No. 4, Performance Art: (Some) Theory and (Selected) Practice at the End of This Century (Winter, 1997), pp. 11-18

Yayoi’s website here

┐ Muga Miyahara └

© Yuki Onodera, Muga Miyahara, Increase, from the series Tokonoma

© Yuki Onodera, Muga Miyahara, Fear, from the series Tokonoma

“Japan photographer Muga Miyahara’s interpretation of tradition is most noteworthy in his works titled “Tokonoma”. The term refers to a built-in recessed space in a typical Japanese house, usually decorated with a calligraphic or pictorial scroll and an Ikebana flower arrangement. In Miyahara’s vision the Tokonoma becomes a stage presenting a cornucopia of different objects, inviting the viewer to explore a variety of ideas and thoughts. Although the arrangements are zen-like, very pure and simple, they have the effect of disturbing the viewer rather than expressing serenity and tranquillity. A lonely artificial leg, an empty shirt on strings, or knives hanging from the ceiling. Everyone can discover the invisible layers behind the objects for himself. The picture of three bombers and an ascending explosion cloud can – apart from obvious associations with war, air raids and nuclear attacks – be the starting point for various reflections about violence.”

source: voicer

More of Muga’s work here

┐ Yuki Onodera └

© Yuki Onodera, untitled, from the series Portrait of Second Hand Clothes, 1994

© Yuki Onodera, untitled, from the series Portrait of Second Hand Clothes, 1994

“La série, Portraits de fripes, marque une étape dans le travail de Yuki Onodera. Profondément autobiographique, cette œuvre correspond à son installation à Paris en 1993 où elle photographie des vêtements d’occasion par la fenêtre de son studio. Ils apparaissent suspendus, avec pour chacun un fond de ciel nuageux différent. Ce sont des vêtements ordinaires, attributs de ceux qui les ont portés. Placées sous l’objectif de Yuki Onodera, ces fripes révèlent une identité différente, témoins de la mémoire du temps qui passe dont le ciel est une évocation poétique. La rigueur de la mise en scène, le format et le cadrage en font de véritables portraits sociologiques où l’artiste s’intéresse non seulement à l’identité de la culture occidentale mais s’approprie la mémoire de cette société qui lui est étrangère et insaisissable. Ces vêtements portent les traces et les plis d’un vécu, d’une histoire identifiable et autorise une interprétation subjective.”

More of Yuki’s work here

┐ Ryoko Suzuki └

© Ryoko Suzuki, Untitled, from the project Bind, 2001

© Ryoko Suzuki, Untitled, from the project Masturbation, 1999

“Ryoko Suzuki is a Sapporo-based artist working primarily in photography. Using highly constructed, digital images, Suzuki challenges the assigned gender roles, stereotypes and fetishization of Japanese women. Using at times humourous and at times disturbing juxtapositions of imagery, Suzuki creates strong, conceptual works that question the dominant portrayal of women, not only in Japanese culture but also in a global context.”

source: corkin gallery

Ryoko’s home here

┐ Tokihiro Sato └

© Tokihiro Sato, #149, 1992

© Tokihiro Sato, #170 Manji, 1992

© Tokihiro Sato, Yura #339, 2001

“The Photo-Respiration series is Sato’s most well known work. When we approached him with our request for a cover photo, we were delighted to learn that he has been continuing to work on the series up until now, as the above 2008 image Shirakami #1 illustrates. Photo-respiration consists of two sub-streams, Breathing Light and Breathing Shadows. To make these photographs, Sato opens up the lens on his 8 x 10 camera for an extended exposure, sometimes up to three hours, and subsequently physically enters the scene in front of the frame. In Breathing Shadows a flashlight is pointed at the camera at nighttime or in a darkened space. In Breathing Light he uses a mirror to reflect light back toward the lens by day. In both cases he then moves around in the scene adding streaks or spots of light to the image. Ironically a long exposure of a person becomes a photo without anyone in it, but the viewer infers the person’s presence from the resulting image.


The title Photo-Respiration was chosen, according to Sato, because in the photographs he makes “a direct connection between my breath and the act of tracing out the light.” In his view this has the same significance as in monotonous activities such as long distance running or swimming, when one’s focus is only on breathing. The fact that Sato accommodates the three-dimensional real world by tracing it through his person into the image is often attributed to his training as a sculptor, although naturally the concept of dimensional collapse is part of the medium and a consideration for every photographer.


The resulting photographs have a very timeless and lyrical feel about them and this impression persists even after learning about the technique that was used to create them. In fact, knowing the method of creation adds to the enjoyment of the work. As always, it is the viewer who makes the image once more when facing it and doing so is a delightful moment. Interpretation is tempting, but one should be careful not to jump to quick associations. In an Q&A session, Sato was once asked what the reflections of light “represented” to him: perhaps fireflies, or marching pieces of string? His response was that representation is not his intention. All they represent is where he stood shining the light into the camera.”

source: japan exposures

more of Tokihiro’s work here

┐ Sachiko Abe └

© Liverpool Biennial, 2010

“For around 10 hours a day, Sachiko Abe sits on a white mattress on the floor behind long, gauze curtains cutting paper. Curls of paper as thin as wires hang from the ceiling and billow in piles on the ground; it is like an ice palace.
Sachiko, a postgraduate at the Royal College exhibiting in this finals show for students on the Curating Contemporary Art course, started cutting paper when she was in a mental hospital nine years ago. It helped calm her and deflected her need to cut herself. ‘It takes 40 minutes to cut one whole paper,’ she writes in her explanatory note. ‘The thinness is 0.5mm. During the depressed period, the thinness is about 0.3mm.'”

excerpt from The Guardian

© Sachiko Abe, Cut papers, performance for Kunstnernes Hus, 2002

║ David Favrod ║

© David Favrod, Untitled, from the series Gaijin, 2009

© David Favrod, Untitled, from the series Gaijin, 2009

“It is from this feeling of rejection and also from a desire to prove that I am as Japanese as I am Swiss that this work was created. “Gaijin” is a fictional narrative, a tool for my quest for identity, where self-portraits imply an intimate and solitary relationship that I have with myself. The mirror image is frozen in a figurative alter ego that serves as an anchor point.”

excerpt from statement

To see more of David’s work click here

║ Kimiko Yoshida ║

© Kimiko Yoshida, Minotaur by Picasso, from the series Painting, self portraits, 2007-09

© Kimiko Yoshida, Laughing girl by Vermeer, from the series Painting, self portraits, 2007-09

More of Kimiko’s work can be seen here

║ Hiroko Inoue ║

© Hiroko Inoue, Untitled, from the series Inside-Out, 2005

© Iroko Inoue, Untitled, from the series Inside-Out, 2005

“In her photo series Inside-Out, the Japanese artist Hiroko Inoue explores psychical constellations that go beyond the normative process of socially preformulated reality on account of various life experiences. Windows of patients’ rooms in the psychiatric ward of the Otto Wagner Hospital in Vienna show both the view outward into the open and the interior of a territorially and mentally delimited living environment. The connotation of the open out-of-doors as a space inviting freedom is counteracted by the bars on the window through which the beholder gazes. From a historical perspective, the Otto Wagner Hospital stands for a model institution which housed patients in single rooms in the Jugendstil pavilions, but also for the ‚Orthopedagogic Clinic of the City of Vienna – Am Spiegelgrund‘, where from 1940 to 1945 children with psychological irregularities were murdered. Today several psychiatric wards are operated by the Baumgartner Höhe Social-Medical Center. With regard to care for the mentally ill, Inoue’s work raises the question of appropriate models for housing. While the patients and their family members continue to enjoy the salutogenic benefi ts of the Otto Wagner Hospital’s tranquility and aesthetically sophisticated surroundings, the developments of the last three decades in the fi eld of social psychiatry raise critical questions with regard to the spatial concentration of treatment and care. In addition to the development of community-ortiented and localized inpatient facilities, there have been tendencies to increase the possibilities of ambulatory and semi-inpatient care.”

source: psychic realities

║ Mari Hirata ║

Heels-Hoist-3_big

© Mari Hirata, Heels Hoist #3, from the series Domestic Bliss, 2007

The_Pregnant_Bride_big

© Mari Hirata, The Pregnant Bride, from the series Domestic Bliss, 2007

“My Photographs talk about the unity of formality and informality. It is the combination of established procedure and order, with the notion of surrealism and visual puns.

Progressing forward from the commencement of my photographic works, the White Shoe Series, evolves several works of an analogous kind, which similarly deals with the process of collecting, installing, and documenting objects of the same, multiplied components. After much exploration of various materials, I have come to revisit my primary subject, the white high heels, wherein my attempts are to challenge the human eye, its perception to make sense, and the condition in which our minds attempts to identify with memory, and past visual experiences.”

Mari Hirata

To see more of Mari’s work click here

║ Izima Kaoru ║

© Izima Kaoru, Igawa Haruka wears Dolce Gabbana, 2003
© Izima Kaoru, Tanja de Jaeger wears Christian Dior, 2002


“Poetic yet disturbing, bloody yet seductive. Since 1993 the Japanese photographer Izima Kaoru has been creating scenes of sophisticated violence and enchanting horror. Landscapes with a Corpse is the title of his project. He invited actresses and models to reveal to him their fantasies about a perfect death: above all he asked them which designer clothes they would like to wear when they died. And so the photos that show the crime scene (or that of natural death) do not allude to something fatal and irreversible but a kind of elegant and highly aesthetic ceremony.

Kaoru’s images have always had a film-like structure: long shots with bodies that seem to melt into the setting alternate with others that show close-ups of the wide-open eyes of the victims. Yet there is never a real story, only clues, suspicions, allusions: the unlocking of a tale whose mystery will never be revealed. Even the glassy eyes of the models no longer look onto anything or anybody. Perhaps they symbolically look death in the face and continue to live within that explosive moment, with the absolute risk that signifies the extreme contact with ‘diversity’.”
source: Studio La Città


More of Izima’s work can be seen here and here

║ Kanako Sasaki ║

© Kanako Sasaki, Outcast, from the series Wanderlust, 2003-04


© Kanako Sasaki, leva, Riga, Latvia from the series The World of Groping, 2006


“Kanako Sasaki’s photographs are largely self-portraits. Not only does she pose in her pictures, but the works are also inspired directly from her own childhood memories and imagination. Sasaki’s photos capture the concept of a “floating world”, or romanticized world where everything is peaceful and beautiful and nature is flourishing. She is influenced by various Japanese novels and Ukiyo-e paintings. (Ukiyo-e is a genre style of painting and printmaking developed in Japan from the 17th to the 19th centuries and marked by the depiction of the leisure activities of ordinary people). Putting her own idiosyncratic twist on the popular theme of teenage girls growing up, Sasaki always dresses up in high fashion clothing, thus putting her own spin on the conventions of adolescence and recreation. Sasaki likes to let the audience see her work as if they are sharing the secret moments with the girl in the image. She wants them to conjure up their own memories of playing on the beach, as seen in Ambassador or as climbing and playing in the yard on trees as depicted in Swing Club.”
Source: Gallery 10G

More of her work can be seen here

║ Hiroyo Kaneko ║

© Hiroyo Kaneko, Untitled #7, from the series Sentimental Education, 2005

© Hiroyo Kaneko, Untitled #2, from the series Sentimental Education, 2005

“I have seen this artist’s work for years and to find this flower from a rich harvest is a surprise. Many say that all essences of an artist can be seen in the maiden work. In Hiroyo’s work, the various worlds comprised in the earlier work obstructed each other to the point of being unclear. Since the essence was hard to ascertain, it was a sign of weakness. However, this weakness has evolved into a genuine strength.
My specialty is philosophy. The philosopher tries to understand the world with logic as the main weapon. The simpler the logic is, the sharper it cuts through our world and the deeper it reaches. It seems that the philosopher is a kind who pursues depth above all. This might be why depth and richness do not often coexist in philosophy–profundity often looks penniless. It is not hard to see a strength turn out to be a weakness. But to one who dreams of the philosophy, or even life, where the abandonment of a sharp logic is transformed from a weakness to a strength, this photograph appears as a vision of hope.
I strongly wish for this artist’s recent work to be widely open to the public in Japan where we have hardly heard the term “hope” for years.”

Toshio Ishii