The exhibition, held at Tanjong Pagar DistriPark, presented by Galerie Steph and Ooi Botos, comprises of selected works from Araki’s various projects including, “Novel Photography” (1995), “67 Shooting Back” (2007), “Pola Eros” (2006 – 2009), “Sky” (2006 – 2009), “Pola Nostalgia” (2011) and “Lewd Paintings” (2011).
The way Araki captured the female subjects often evokes an interesting feeling – voyeuristic yet playful at the same time. Each of the images objectifies the female subject as a sexual play-thing and at first glance, belie a kind of victimised helplessness. The tensions created in the images are powerful. Some of the most arresting images for me are those that depict women dressed in traditional kimonos with fully exposed private parts in controversial settings of ‘Kinbaku’ (the traditional art of bondage). When scrutinised deeper, the female subjects’ gaze reflects a kind of deliberateness – a deliberate attempt to manipulate her viewers into thinking she is helpless when in fact, she controls how much one gets into her world of sensuality.
The allure of Araki’s works lies in how he manages to juxtapose the delicate and seclusive world of Japanese women, together with the inner sexual tensions they live within at the same time. It somehow reflects the changing society of Japan – that while it’ remains a country that follows traditions, rituals and abides by formalities, it is not afraid to challenge conventional perceptions, in particular of women.
That’s perhaps where the mystery remains.