Mikiko Hara

When I went to Japan in the second half of the 1990s for to research Modern Japanese photography I was fortunate to meet the photographer Eiji Ina who introduced me to the contemporary photography scene in Tokyo. At that time it was nearly impossible for foreigners without a well developed ability to read Japanese (especially names)As an example: when I visited the exhibition “MOBO, MOGA / Modern Boy, Modern Girl: Japanese Modern Art 1910-1935” in Kamakura (1998) all artists names were written in Kanji. Since I find Japanese names very difficult to read I asked other Japanese visitors for the names of some artists. This caused vivid discussions among the Japanese, because the Kanji can have several different readings and sometimes the Japanese could not agree on the correct spelling of the names :-). to find out what was going on in Tokyo, since there were no English sources neither about exhibitions nor galleries available and Eiji Ina was so kind to take me to photography events like exhibition openings at galleries and museums or to the award ceremony of the Kimura Ihei Award. He also introduced me to the photographer Mikiko Hara, whom I met for the first time in 1998 at the opening of her exhibition “Agnus Dei” at Nikon Salon, Ginza/Tokyo.

Mikiko Hara: untitled (from the series: Agnus Dei), 1998

A year later I saw Mikiko’s work again in the group exhibition about young Japanese women photographers “Private Room II” at Art Tower Mito. Curated by Kohtaro Iizawa this exhibition was a kind of assessment of the “onna no ko shashinka” (girly photographer) phenomenon which had already faded at that time. I felt that Mikikos work was misplaced in the girly photographer context, since she was a few years older than these ‘girlies’ like Hiromix and Yurie Nagashima. Also Hiromix’s and Nagashima’s main aim was to use the camera for to talk about themselves and to deal with their own identity. Mikiko’s topic is different, she does not speak about herself:

Mikiko Hara: Untitled (from the series: It As Is), 1996

Continue reading →

Aoi Sora “Polgasun”

Last fall the publisher of the bilingual magazine European Photography asked me to write a short review on the book Aoisora Polgasun by Aoi Sora. At that time I had never heard the name of the photographer and a short search on the web revealed that Aoi Sora is not a photographer by profession, but a Japanese idol and porn star, who made a series of self portraits on request of the publisher PowerShovelBooks, a publisher who is involved in Lomo photography.

Polgasun, 2005

5 Japanese popular idols are asked to take self-portrait. They are given more than 50 films and few days for it. They are asked to take the cameras with them all the time, anywhere they go and anywhere they are. As if the cameras are their boyfriends or undetestable stalkers. The girls are Nao Oikawa, Aki Hoshino, Rei Ito, Kyouko Nakashima and Sora Aoi. Their mission is to keep on popping shutters until they get sick of doing it.[…]

(Later) we asked Sora to take pictures continuously. We were desperate to see more photographs she takes. Sora was kind and curious enough to take photographs with many cameras we provided, such as BabyHolga, Babylon4, Holga and GR. Most of the photographs taken by Sora with those cameras were very interesting. However, her photographs have been completely changed since she started using POLGA. (You know, POLGA is Holga Polaroid holder for Holga.)
[Quote: Hideki Ohmori/ PowerShovelBooks]

Polagsun, 2005
Continue reading →