Friday, March 17, 2006

Subway Love reviewed in SOMA Magazine

The Vol. 20.2, March 2006 of SOMA Magazine reviews Subway Love:

Between the years of 1962 and 1973 Nobuyoshi Araki hid his camera in his lap and photographed unsuspecting Tokyo subway commuters. In one of the largest metro systems in the world Araki satiated his need to view humanity through a lens while managing to exclude the natural relationship of artist and subject. Perhaps this is documentary photography at its best? As a cultural icon in Japan, Araki is the quintessential artistic rebel, the kind that would prefer a reclining nude wrapped in leather and chains with a dark streak of pubic hair glaring back at the viewer sans apology. The problem is this: the only thing that might possibly shock our generation is the actual presence of pubic hair. And so with his new collection of old works, Subway Love might disappoint those fans looking for his trademark grit-and-grime voyeurism. Aside from the occasional woman who has fallen asleep on her way home from work and relaxed her body enough to spread her legs, Araki's collection is dominated by less aggressive portraiture than what has given him his claim in picturing Japan and the Japanese. What makes these mundane subway portraits so special is his approach to acquiring the images through guerilla espionage tactics that are sometimes more compelling that the images themselves. The result: pictures of people going about their daily lives with no clue they're on camera. And while this might seem like an outdated mode of self-awareness in this day and age, it remains a truer vehicle for pure, unadulterated voyeurism. Here Araki creates a picture for us, where the bond lays not between artist and subject, but artist and viewer. Before us is someone unaware -- Araki has offered them up and we can stare as long as we like without the dark sunglasses. Danielle Grant


Anonymous said...

this review was chicken.


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