I spent some time earlier this month with Hiroshi Yoshioka, a professor at Kyoto University, who I had met through his writing about Familiar Men and his interview of me for his magazine Diatext, when I was an artist in residence at the Kyoto Art Center a few years ago. He was writing in the magazine about slowness (“creating slowness within speed”) both in life and philosophy and he felt that my process with my models fit this conversation. Unlike many photographers, my collaborations with the people I photograph, particularly in the US, involve time and conversation and a long shoot. The process is often spread out over several months. Among other things, I like to give people lots of time to make up their minds. My friend Carol Squires had taken the longest time (over 6 months) until this past year when two Japanese women took two years to decide to be photographed together.
Hiroshi Yoshioka and I became friends. When he was here, we spent a nice day in the city together and then I went to hear him speak later in the week at the Art Institute in San Francisco. He was talking about both his magazine work and the exhibitions he’s curated. As part of his presentation, he spoke about the photos of photographer Miyako Ishiuchi and I’ve been thinking about her work.
I met Ishiuchi in Japan and we were on a panel together at Third Gallery Aya, the feminist gallery in Osaka. Our work is quite different but we both frequently photograph the body in intimate ways: me in black and white, and Ishiuchi in both black and white and color.
My work is predominantly portraits. Ishiuchi’s is either body parts or individual objects. She’s done body part series on scars, and hands and feet among others. Her work includes a series on her mother, of objects that were part of her mother’s life, lipstick, clothing and so on.
Most of my work is small by today’s standards from 8″ by 10″ to perhaps (very occasionally) 20″ by 22″. Ishiuchi’s photographs are on a much larger scale.
Her scar photos, at many times lifesize, involve you in the patterning and sometimes beauty of the scars in a way that somewhat (for me) abstracts them and can give you a sense of them, that is almost separate from the physically present body.
This image of a breast seems very intimate to me on the blog but when I see them in a gallery close to the size of my body, I experience it very differently.
They also remind me of what I quoted Kurt as saying in a recent blog post I called Art -Disability – Beauty:
“Not all landscapes should be painted in Tuscany. Sometimes a stormy sea is as striking as one that looks like glass. An image of the human body—any human body—has the potential to make a statement, and force viewers to consider themselves in ways they never had before.”