*Impossible Love—Vintage Photographs

october 018

A young woman with her legs spread wide; buttoned-up dressed workers on a city street. Photographs like these of intimate, private scenes juxtaposed against snapshots of nameless passers-by were an early commentary on the heterogeneity of Japanese society. In 1973, Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki published a series of image pairs showing life in Tokyo between 1969 and 1973 as a photo- graphic book. In their authenticity, these early works by Araki reveal a dysfunctional society, calling the social responsibility and moral sense of its members into question.

Kinbaku, 2010, Polaroid  © Nobuyoshi Araki Courtesy artspace AM, Tokyo

Kinbaku, 2010, Polaroid
© Nobuyoshi Araki
Courtesy artspace AM, Tokyo

Nobuyoshi Araki is one of the most influential and widely discussed artists in the world whose work deals with nakedness, sexuality, and the body in a radical and realistic way. In these works, what is most surprising to the viewer is the photographer’s lack of distance and the familiarity of his gaze. Araki’s extreme closeness and intimacy with the subjects and the situations depicted are unique and revolutionary to this day. In contrast to classic photojournalism, which looks into an unfamiliar world from the outside, Araki not only is part of his subjects’ lives but also plays a central role in his own photographs, thus transcending voyeurism. He navigates the tense relationship between classical visual composition and his chosen visual themes with a direct, intense visual language, creating works that are in equal parts moving and unsettling and that set him apart from virtually all of his peers. His work concentrates on a sexuality that is lived out in complete openness. In depicting this, the artist never denounces or accuses, but instead leaves all inter- pretation up to the viewer. Together with US photographers Nan Goldin and Larry Clark and Ukrainian photographer Boris Mikhailow, Araki is considered one of the pioneers of intimate, subjective photography.

Ohne Titel, a.d.S.  The Days We Were Happy , 1975 © Nobuyoshi Araki Courtesy Privatsammlung Eva Felten

Ohne Titel, a.d.S. The Days We Were Happy, 1975
© Nobuyoshi Araki
Courtesy Privatsammlung Eva Felten

In this unique compilation and for the first time in Europe, C/O Berlin presents the exhibition Nobuyoshi Araki . Impossible Love—Vintage Photographs. Exclusively on view at C/O Berlin, the show combines Araki’s Tokyo series from his early works with a selection of his recent Polaroid collages and newly developed slide shows— all of them exploring the contradictions between anonymity and intimacy, the public and private sphere, reality and dream. A catalog accompanying the exhibition will be published by Steidl Verlag, Göttingen.