Last week I posted some amazing photographs of Transgender youth in NYC, pulled from this site I am now semi-addicted to, TIME Magazine’s LightBox. This week they’re featuring work from the renowned photographer, Kimiko Yoshida. The piece is entitled Ceremonies of Disappearance: Kimiko Yoshida’s Critique of Identity and it is breathtaking and mind-blowing and all things brilliant and artistic. Check out photos, along with Yoshida’s story inside.
“The preoccupation with I has become a cliché in contemporary art,” says Kimiko Yoshida…“I am basically saying that there is no such thing as a self-portrait… Each of these photographs is actually a ceremony of disappearance. It is not an emphasis of identity, but the opposite—an erasure of identity.”
The artist was born in Tokyo but found herself unable to live in an environment that perpetuated what she calls “the mortifying servitude and humiliating fate of Japanese women.” She studied at the Tokyo College of Photography (in spite of protests from her father) and eventually moved to France. Art became a way for her to express certain feminist ideas, and I think this really comes through in these anti-self-portraits. The LightBox article explores the relationship between Yoshida’s work and art history, as many of her photographs play on themes and paintings in Western art. She ‘remixes’ artists like Picasso, Andy Warhol, and Caravaggio to critique and construct her own theories about identity.
I love the way Yoshida’s photographs hide and illuminate simultaneously. While she is often veiled, the textures, colors, and fantastic materials are revealed. And even as she seeks to challenge a certain narcissism in contemporary art (and life), she participates in it. These are still self-portraits, but they kind of turn the notion of the self-portrait on its head. Notice all the different cultures she inhabits; her self is fluid and is everywhere. It’s not just one person from one place. As a woman– and as an artistic being– she occupies many spaces at once. And that, I think, is a brilliant concept.
The Kayapo Txukahamae Bride, Brazil. Self-portrait, 2003
Read more about the project at TIME LightBox, and gawk with me at more portraits of the artist in the gallery.