Nobuyoshi Araki’s Polaroids
Nobuyoshi Araki’s portfolio of Polaroid collages of nudes juxtaposed with flora is one of the Tokyo-based photographer’s latest projects, which appeared in Aperture magazine #219, Summer 2015, “Tokyo,” with the following editors’ note. Araki’s latest exhibition, Eros Diary, is currently on view at Anton Kern Gallery, New York, through August 7.
At his retrospective in London a decade ago, Nobuyoshi Araki’s presence was likened to a tornado. Indeed, as photographers go, Araki is something of a storm. His voluminous output now forms a library unto itself: more than five hundred books of his photographs have been published since the 1960s. Over the course of his career, Araki’s sharp and libidinous eye has garnered a global cult following; he has incited controversy for his signature kinbaku (a Japanese form of bondage) images of kimono-draped models bound with rope. A tension between Eros and Thanatos is at the center of his work—the weight shifting to the latter as Araki ages. He is seventy-four and recently lost sight in his right eye, but in his work he shows no sign of slowing down. For Araki, photography and living are mutually dependent. An unfortunate fate becomes an area of creative exploration. His series Love on the Left Eye (2013–14) features photographs half-obscured with marker, and last December he presented the works seen on these pages, a new series of Polaroid collages titled Kekkai (2014), at Tokyo’s Art Space AM. The title invokes the Buddhist concept of a barrier cordoning off a sanctum. Araki splices together nudes and flowers, reanimating two of his long-standing preoccupations. “When you lose something, you gain something else,” Araki recently remarked about his reduced vision. “I say to myself that I believe I should be able to see things differently.”