Must a portrait necessarily show the face? If a photograph only shows one part of the body—is it not still a portrait? What’s so special about the face? In many cases, another part of the body can tell us just as much as the face can, or even more.

So, what happens when the area that is supposed to be the most important is deliberately left outside the frame? Implicitly, we’re creating an extra interest in the viewer, who suddenly realizes they want to discover what is happening in that now hidden part.

I took Tokyo and Japanese girls as my inspiration. Metonymy was my visual language; intimacy as a leitmotiv. In this series of photographs of female feet and legs, I’ve chosen another way of portraying people. Showing the part for the whole. The viewers will have to complete with their imaginations these portraits, which paradoxically, convey a deep intimacy (although they were taken in public places).

Why Ashimoto? “Ashimoto” is a polysemic term, which in Japanese means “around the feet,” among other senses. Referring only to the foot (but also the foot including the leg) or just a part of the foot which is intuited through the folds of a kimono. This title, as if it were another work of the project, allows multiple interpretations—as many as viewers of the work; as many as the megalopolis itself.

Indeed, the Japanese megalopolis is the hidden backdrop of this series. A scenario composed of infinite layers. The deliberate mixture of photos—color, black and white, static and moving—is not at all intended to be a document but instead a reflection of those uncountable layers that overlap and interact with each other in the urban environment.

In this series, there were some stolen photos [taken without permission] and also pictures that were permitted. But in both cases I prefer to define them as “found photographs.” All women who participated in this project, always by casual encounter on the street, did so selflessly. And although some of the “portrayed” girls were aware that they were being photographed, no scene was prepared beforehand.

—Cesar Ordoñez