Italian photographer Carlotta Cardana explores multiple themes in her ongoing series ‘Modern Couples’ – firstly- subcultures, in particular 2014’s take on the 1960’s British mod movement. Carlotta photographs quirky couples who ooze class and sophistication. Another theme Carlotta explores is relationships and how two people can blend to become almost one.
The most intriguing theme Carlotta talks about is the freedom she gave to each couple, allowing them to style themselves and choose a location, on her site she talks about how she wanted to look beyond the clothing and get the couples to project themselves through their image.
It’s a lovely series that surreally immerses us into a vintage version of our modern age, it seems so detached from “reality”. What I love is the stillness throughout the series – although each couple is uniquely different the images (like her take on relationships) almost become one, this is due to Carlotta’s brilliant editing and how she maintained a deadpean-esque feel that lets the clothes, objects and environment speak for the couples.
21st Century Geisha, Magical Girl and Product Placement. These are all “looks” of our protagonist. Female pop cult icons change their visual identity in order to comply with whichever product or theme is in demand. They become like dolls boundlessly changing whilst simultaneously being branded as unique and liberating. Consumers are led into a false sense of empowerment, told we are free to choose how these icons look, when really we are being drip fed options. Our so called freedom is choosing from a series of pre-selected branded looks which demand we pay before getting access. This transcends into all aspects of consumerism surrounding these transmedia icons, figures, photos and trading cards all offer different variations, we buy into choices in order to show we don’t conform. When the act of needing them suggests the opposite.
We live in a society in which we passively communicate, and whilst many people see this as a negative thing, I don’t. I made this series to portray the emotion and comfort technology can bring us in relationships, long distance ones in particular. Each Image is named after the singular light source used in the image.
Exactitude is a collection of work from Photographer Ari Versluis and stylist Ellie Uyttenbroek which portrays the inhabitants of key sub cultures within Rotterdam & other cities over the last 16 years.
The pairs presentation of their subjects makes us feel as though this is almost a scientific observation, the same styling, poses and colours are used to not only make us notice the profound similarities but also the minute differences.
Every individual is profoundly different yet so similar, especially when you are first presented with the project online. It’s like getting a mass overload of information, and whilst this project does explore sub cultures I feel as though it’s more about the subjects image in relation to others than the individuals story and personal relationship with their culture. An amazing project non the less.
A second wave focuses on the unique girl culture thriving in Japan today. While girls feature everywhere
in Japanese contemporary art – particularly in the adolescent styles of Murakami’s Kaikai Kiki artists –
other more independent women are striking a bolder, autonomous pose that is questioning gender
identity and roles in Japanese society, while celebrating their growing consumer power. This art has used
the camera as its main medium, influenced by popular street photography, as much as the extraordinary
innovations of the Japanese fashion world. Key artists here include Mika Ninagawa, Mikiko Hara, Miwa
Yanagi, Tomoko Sawada and Pyuupiru.
Miwa Yanagi also featured in the Bye Bye Kitty exhibition I wrote about, and whilst her and these artists focus on the role of the woman it is important to explore such a controversial new movement which opposes Japanese popular culture.
I am trying my hardest to get hold of a copy of the talk and to get into contact with Adrian Favell, the speaker. For now I will look at the work of practitioners mentioned and gain as greater knowledge as I can from that.
‘Japanese Schoolgirl confidential – How teenage girls made a nation cool’ – Brian Ashcraft with Shoko Ueda
I bought this book at Hyper Japan in February 2012 just out of interest to read. However there is one chapter in particular which is very relevant to my symposium research project. The Japanese school girl is at the center of Popular Culture and has helped to define Japan as the eccentric, youthful and energetic nation it is today.
Chapter 6 – Art
This chapter gives an insight into the way Japanese school girls are represented within art and photography, including themes of sex, innocence and violence.
The chapter starts by talking about one of Japans most famous modern artists “Mr.” and his role with the school girl.
‘Nobody Dies’ is a short film which embodies all the aspects of the school girl. Teenage girls with airsoft guns depicting war as fun, cute and harmless. It is based on one of his paintings from 2007 called ‘It hurts when it hits the bare skin’. Directly influenced from the role of young women in Anime Mr.’s work has helped push the assumption that the best age for a woman in life is 14/15, no children, no work and no husbands, an idea that to us might seem absurd, but in Japan the pressure of marrying and having children for young women equivalents that of 50’s Britain.
Time out new york describes Mr.’s work and ‘Nobody Dies’…
Mr. is an unabashed fan of otaku, a geek-driven fantasy world whose denizens include pubescent girls with saucer eyes engaging in Lolita-like scenarios. His first solo exhibition portrayed these doll-like cuties as giant candy-colored sculptures that exaggerated their peekaboo innocence. Perhaps to distance himself a bit from Murakami, Mr.’s second solo exhibition, “Nobody Dies,” presents a video starring live girls “discovered” on the streets of Tokyo, along with a series of related photographs and a panoramic acid-hued painting, which seems to depict Akihabara, the massive, arcade-filled Tokyo neighborhood that is otaku’s subcultural epicenter.
The video follows the story of five tween schoolgirls who plan their revenge against a team of punk chicks who beat them in a mock survival game reminiscent of paintball. More than a half hour long, the tedious narrative weaves together silly flashbacks with a plethora of crotch shots. The accompanying photos depict the girls in front of various locales in elaborate costumes—from gingham uniform skirts to fashionista camo—designed by Mr. and Kaikai Kiki. What the viewer is supposed to get out of “Nobody Dies” is anybody’s guess, but if Mr. hopes to entice more than just otaku geeks, he’d better start giving a clue, or his own career may expire.
The next artists which is discussed in the book is Makoto Aida, who’s work I had come across before but only on anonymous bloging sites. As an adult man Makoto Aida is fascinated with the idea of the Japanese school girl.
These artists had grown up after the war, while the process of rebuilding Japan was in full swing. they experienced the rapid ascent of the japanese economy during the heady 1980’s, and came of age surrounded by pop-culutre. They drew inspiration form this-using the language of manga and anime to convey their message.
-page 128/129 Talking about Makoto Aida, Murakami and Yoshitomo Nara.
The book continues to write about how Aida uses the combination of innocence and sex to make his subject feel uncomfortable,.
“At the age of fourteen, I became obsessed with the magical quality young girls have,” he says. “As I get older, the age difference gets wider, and yet the almost magnetic attraction to these girls gets stronger and stronger.” But the artist emphasises it’s not a romantic interest. Rather, it is a reminder of his youth and his ageing.
Tomoko Sawada is a key photographer is understanding life as a Japanese School girl, understanding the abilities appearances can have for young girls. Individuality is a huge problem for Japanese school girls, living in a country with so many people how do you stand out?
In the late 1990’s Sawada used subway station photo booths to take passport-style portraits of herself. In each photo her hairdo or expression was different. Ultimately, the four hundred monochrome photos she took made us her work entitled ‘ID400’. The point was that although these were ID photos, none of them identified Sawada.
The passport-style photo is a key part of japanese life, it’s sent along with job applications, used for marriage match making, and remembering the “best” part of their lives, School.
Sawada then went on to create a ‘school days’ series which pushed her identity project further.
At first is appears that this is a normal school photo, but when you look closely you see that each character is the same person, Sawada. This is her exploration of individuality and shows how teenagers have the ability to be individual in the most structured environment. Maybe that is the appeal of teenagers, the freedom and individuality they possess.
Sawada, Koide, and Aida, and many other Japanese artists today, use schoolgirls in their work much in the same way French Realists like Millet and Courbet painted pheasants – schoolgirls represent the common people, they are the soul of the country and bear the brunt of society, they are the ones who keep it going. And sometimes that stress can take its toll.
Photographer Motoyuki Kobayashi also uses the school photo to present his thoughts on society, but in a different way.
‘I feel that if society looks at the purity of schoolgirls, it can see the future,” says Koboyashi. There’s hope. These girls represent the Japan of tomorrow. “The purity of young girls’ hearts is a common theme in Japan.”
Roughly half of Japans 120 million residents either were, are or will be school girls. They represent the mass. “Schoolgirls are a symbol of Japanese culture.” – Says Kobayashi
His books depict innocent, hopeful images of japanese school girls.
Keitai Girl is an image made by photographer Noriko Yamaguchi it looks at school girls and their relationship with “Keitai Denwa (portable phone)”. Her photos are self-portrait, she has covered herself in hundreds of mobile phone key pads which concern the desire to touch.