Autumn leafs. Today I just went outside, with no real intention to shoot but I took my camera, again I shooted a part of the session in colors. Yes I said the last time that I will not be for a while but colors you can find in Japan during Autumn are just extraordinary, you cannot avoid to shoot in color for some of them. I will add in Mitani Monogatari section of this website or here but they will be in Black and white not into colors.
Feature Shoot / Print Swap editors have selected two of my pictures for a curation on their side ; and for an exhibition in New York City. The exhibition is located in the ROOT Studios, and will be held in December 2018.
Moreover this selection made me very happy as this is the first time for me to publish pictures in colours.
Hence colours is not usual for me as I shoot 99% of the time with high contrast, black and white type of settings. As this represents more my state of mind and my vision of the world. But for once I could not resist to reflect these beautiful colours, representing the morning sunrise in the so-called country of the morning sunrise, which is Japan.
It is just a small deviance from my usual shooting as I don’t think I will that soon shoot again into colours, but never say never… Colours is not my favorite pattern but who knows, maybe one of these days (It always remind me the album Meddle of Pink Floyd) I will change. Well, I mean my state of mind will change.
Last week, a band called HIELO, a rock band from Osaka, invited me to photoshoot them. We spend most of the day together, trying to get the best pictures for them to promote themselves, as they don’t have yet a website, nor any materials for flyers etc… This was a very new experience for me. As I usually shoot portrait or street photography only.
But they seemed convinced by the result so I am really happy for this. We started in their rehearsal studio for 2h, that’s where I think I got the best material. I mean as a photographer, while they might be more happy with the band photo we took afterwards. We tried to went first to a church but it was forbidden to take pictures.
We were a bit disapointed but it did not stopped us taking pictures after wards in the street of Osaka, trying to find the right place and background. So we could do also nice all band together photos type of things. We finished the day in a yakitori ya san (grilled chicken sticks restaurant). And I went back home. I could not sleep so I did the editing right away so I was able to give them the pictures the day after in the early morning.
BRUCE GILDEN: ANOTHER JAPAN, UNTOLD & AGITATED
Bruce Gilden went to Japan at the end of the nineties bringing with him his recognizable style: black and white (at that time), sometimes really up close, and flash; as well as his interest for the alternative, the different. Gilden is a close-up artist. He is in the action, with his subjects. The portrait he makes of them is not always flattering but always depicting a certain truth, the hidden side of things.
At that time Japan is still recovering from his Asset Price Bubble Collapse (1991-1992). We’re still in the Lost Decade. The stigma from the economy collapse is still tangible. Gilden by putting his eyes on the underground and the uncovered – the Japanese mafia, the homeless, the sex (photographing a porn actress), the Right-wing nationalists, the drunks – tries to convey a sense of uneasiness, discomfort.
His choice of black and white, for a form of documentary photography, puts a certain weight on things and creates an awkward atmosphere on this post bubble Japan, echoing to the so-called grey economy. He brings the attention on things Japan wants to keep for itself, and not to be broadcasted to the outside.
This photo of a yakuza taking a break, during the Sanja Matsuri, in the streets of Asakusa, for example: the man is caught unguarded, on the phone, jewelry of a bad taste brightened by the flash, beer cans visible in the frame. The picture emphasis the context: this festival is like a big party from the eighty’s, at the time of the Japanese Economic Miracle.
He photographs an ex-member of the Japanese mafia his cigarette being lit up by another man, both in American gangster fashion from the 1950’s. He doesn’t want to make things look lovely or attractive, but he puts an amused eye on them, making them look like caricatures; while the smoke of the cigarette flies over his face and probably burns his eyes, the man offers a constricted grin, almost suffering, like the economy.
Japanese gangsters, Yakuza, are for him the absolute dark side of Japan, and photographing them helps him to depict the crash of the Bubble, showing them drunk, or in ridiculous situations – a Japanese mafia member, head in a butterfly net, held by a little girl.
Another time, he’s taking a picture of a man lying on the road, a large recent scar with heavy stitches, disfiguring the face, from the top of his head to the bottom of his eyes, even on his nose. It is like a metaphor of Japan, hurt in its economy, and trying to recover. He depicts the untold culture like the sex industry, with his series « double life », where a former prostitute became a novelist; after spending years selling her body to strangers, now she’s selling her story to strangers.
The black and white Gilden is anchored in a timeless manner of showing things, to highlight the monotone and repetitive circles of life, bringing some more drama to the scenes, like in an Orson Wells’ movie. His black and white work is much more universal compared to his recent frontal color portraits.
From his trip to Japan, Gilden brought back images that show a country still struggling to wake up after the crash of its economy, with all of its contradictions, and from the angle of the alternative worlds or industries.
Bruce Gilden: Go