Monday, 15 June 2009

Photography: Shizuka Yokomizo


I visited Nottingham Castle at the weekend, a beautiful building set in lovely grounds, and whose interior seems to serve as a storage space for pictures, photographs, silver, pottery and any other assorted obets d'art that have somehow found themselves in Nottingham. As is so often the case when visiting a museum, the item that caught my eye was something I didn't expect to find.

The above photograph, Stranger (8) is part of a somewhat eerie study on the space that exists between strangers by Japanese artist Shizuka Yokomizo. She sent letters to random addresses in suburban Japan inviting the inhabitants of said addresses to stand by a specific street-facing window at a specific time, promising that she would be there to take a photo. The photograher and photgraphee never spoke, and their contact was limited entirely to this fleeting moment that spanned a camera flash. If the subject of the photo attempted to make contact with Yokomizo, she discarded the photograph. Because while post-photo contact wouldn't affect the photograph itself, it shatters one of the barriers between these two strangers.



There is something admirable in the trust in which the inhabitants place in Yokomizo, trust that her intentions are pure, and acceptance that their likeness will be used for whatever ends she chooses. Women's hands are clasped nervously; young boys stand chests out; we know nothing of the subjects but what the photos tell us. We can peer behind them into the interiors of their houses, flats, lives, but the reality is we know as little as Yokomizo herself. 


Of course, for all the lonely isolated figures that are portrayed in the photographs, it is important to remember that  Yokomizo herself is on the other side of the window. The only difference is that she wields a camera. In a way the window that separates the two individuals is like nothing more than a mirror, reflecting our own isolation back at us.




1 comment:

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