Rinko Kawauchi at Galerie Priska Pasquer, Cologne

It’s not the first time that I am mentioning Rinko Kawauchi in my blog, but this has a special reason.
I think it was 2003 when Markus Schaden, my local photobook dealer showed me a small photobook by a Japanese women photographer whom I had not heard of at that time. It was “Utatane” (Siesta) by Rinko Kawauchi. “Utatane” caught my attention immediately, since her photography was so much different to any photographer of her generation.”Utatane” is included in vol. 2 of “The Photobook: A History” by Martin Parr and Gerry Badger. See my previous post.

Rinko Kawauchi: Untitled (from the series "Aila"), 2003

Rinko Kawauchi: Untitled (from the series “Aila”), 2003


Rinko Kawauchi had her first exhibition at the end 1990s only a few years after a new – not to say the first – generation of women photographer had emerged in Japan. Before the mid-1990s, the Japanese photography scene was completely male dominated, but this changed almost over night when the first onna no ko shashinka (girly photographers) entered the scene. Those onna no ko shashinka mostly did a kind of subjective documentary photography influenced by Nan Goldin and Nobuyoshi Araki. These women, amongst them most famous Hiromix and Yurie Nagashima, talked mainly about their own lives. With their spontaneous and direct and dairy like style the young photographers opened a new narrative in the Japanese photography, but soon they reached their own limitations, because of their self centred approach on reality.

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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
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