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October 24, 2005
It's the flow of images, colored by the artist's hand, superimposed one over the other with intention and chance â€“ combined like partners in sex, or the cycle of life and death. Subtle electro-acoustic musical noise keeps the flow continuous, rising fallingâ€¦
A photo of a naked woman suspended with ropes from a ceiling is superimposed on a photo of a formal gateway with a door buzzer. A middle-aged man, hands clasped, sitting on an outdoor step, staring at a sleeping dog â€“ this is superimposed over a shiny-clean sewer cover in the middle of a city street. Anonymous run-down temporary rooms caught in the loneliness of the camera's flash, coupled with finger-paint vibrant green smeared on a photograph, circling taut nipples.
This is how an artist reveals his vision. The separate parts are mute, it becomes multidimensional, understandable perhaps, and not repetitive, redundant, exploitive or ridiculous. Not pornography, but an honest accessible meditation on sex, life, death, society, public and privateâ€¦
This is what Araki calls Arakinema, his own personal type of cinema. It was presented "live" at Palais de Tokyo in Paris last week. And for me, it works better than his 300-page books which seem ponderous, monotonous, mildly interesting at best.
As a prelude to the cinema part, Araki and one of his favorite models "performed" for the audience: she danced and twirled and stripped seductively as he used an endless stream of Polaroid cameras to capture the moments. It was in some ways like watching a Tango. No words between them, but brief gestures, glances, the sway of body language, at ease in the moment, seemingly unaware of the crowds around them (with lots of flashes and greedy video cameras). His team of helpers gathered the Polaroids in handfuls, then, as soon as they were developed, projected the stills onto a giant screen while the dance continued.
After the performance, a grid of the Polaroids was put on display, a sort of contact sheet of an Araki shoot.
I like these words from a text by Germano Celant, "Araki - Tokyomania," (Edition Mennour, Paris, 2000, pp. 4-5):
"Besides the avalanche of erotic subjects, Araki introduces into his work the entire range of possible communication techniques. He uses indifferently slides, posters, color photocopies, film, Polaroid, color and black-and-white photographs, large and small formats, to construct his erotic mosaics of solitude, which he displays on walls and ceilings or spreads out over the floor in museums and galleries. The idea is to record a world of silent bodies, moving in an icy sensuality where immaculate and obscene pleasures of sex and politics, day to day or novel, create a choreography of the senses in which the viewer is invited to take part as an active or passive."
And this quote from the artist himself:
"Sentiment, sentiment, sentiment, sentiment. Pressing the shutter release is like holding your breath for a second. But not to the point of killing yourself, thank you. It's just a state of suspended emotion. I just stop breathing during that moment. And when I see the images, I come back to life. It's like rising from the dead. But it's also fireworks. Disappearing in a flash, like fireworks. A love of fireworks is equally sentimental."
â€“ Nobuyoshi Araki