donderdag 30 oktober 2014

ALL FERRARI ENGINES TUTTI I MOTORI FERRARI Graphic Design Irma Boom Company Photography

TUTTI I MOTORI FERRARI

ALL FERRARI ENGINES

Author: Gianni Rogliatti
2002 / text I.E. / pp. 140 / ill. c. 73, b&w 190 / soft cover book, 247x199mm
(the front cover has been patterned the way the surface of an engine cast looks;
black and white images seen in the book are partly colorized red)
Nava Milano spa  1807/02
Beginning with the type 125s up to the Ferrari Enzo all engines ever built at Ferrari become
elucidated here. Illustrated with respective pictures and sectional drawings and small images
of the originals they have been fitted to. The convenient volume was released to continue and
to complement a document from 1985, entitled Technical specifications of Ferrari engines built from
1946 to 1985
. On the pages 130 to 139 specification data of all machines are shown, partitioned
in 14 columns. An accurate nice guide to the expert of the marque and for those who want to
become one.

Ferrari F1: Synonomous with Speed

John Barnard, Ferrari S.p.A. Formula 1 Racing Car (641/2). 1990. Honeycomb composite with carbon fibers, Kevlar and other materials, 40 1/2″ x 7′ x 14′ 6 1/2″ (102.9 x 213.4 x 448.3 cm). Donor: Ferrari North America
There’s nothing in the world like a really fast car, and the MoMA design collection has one of the world’s fastest: the 1990 Scuderia Ferrari Formula 1 High Performance Racing Car (641/2), by British auto designer John Barnard.
Though not a recent acquisition, I thought it fitting to feature the Ferrari now in honor of Fernando Alonso and Ferrari’s first podium of the 2014 Formula 1 season at the recent Chinese Grand Prix.
As designer John Barnard explains in an audio guide segment from the 2002 exhibition AUTObodies: speed, sport, transport, the 641, or F1-90, as it’s become known, was built for speed. And it delivered. Plus it’s red. Fiery red. Ferrari red, in fact. Red means danger, look out, hot stuff coming through; it’s the color of anger, passion, and seduction, and as everyone knows, red cars go faster.

From left: Sketch for Engine Intake of Formula 1 Car, #639; Sketch for body joints of Formula 1 car, Model #639; Sketch for Radiator Inset, Joint of Formula 1 Car, Model No. 639. All by John Barnard. 1987. Pencil on paper, 11 3/4 x 16 5/8″ (29.8 x 42.3 cm). Gift of John Barnard.All photos: John Wronn
Scuderia Ferrari has been part of Formula 1 since the beginning, so it’s no wonder that the racing team holds so many F1 records, including the most constructor and driver championships and most overall wins. Each Formula 1 team races two cars; in 1990  two world championship drivers, Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell, drove the 641 for Ferrari, combining for three pole positions, five fastest laps,  and six wins. As reigning champion,Prost’s was the number one car; and he came close to repeating—only to lose out to another world champion,his arch rival Aryton Senna.
The formula, or the overall guiding regulations of Formula 1, has changed over the years with countless modifications and improvements. And big changes came this year with the hybrid 1.6-litre V-6 turbo engine with ERS (Energy Recovery Systems), a major shift from the 2013 2.4-litre V-8. Overall design changes accompanied the new, greener 2014 engines, but likely the most notable and most talked about change is the new engine sound—or lack of it. Drivers have said they can hear the wind over the engine noise; used to be all you could hear was the engine.
The sound of the 1990 641 Ferrari 3.5-litre V-12 engine is familiar to race fans the world over. Like none other, it screams exhilaration, excitement, and pure power.
The world of Grand Prix motor racing is one of precision, with its rigorous formula, and exacting calculations; it’s a culture unto itself with a complicated set of rules and statistical systems of points and penalties spoken in a language of strange numbers and acronyms. But it’s the visceral experience of raw power, crazy kinetic energy, and speed of the cars that ignites our imagination—the remarkable talents and mad skills of drivers the draws us in.

Irma Boom. Ferrari S.p.A. Tutti i Motori Ferrari. 2002. Photo offset lithography, 9 11/16 x 7 3/4 x 3/8″ (24.6 x 19.7 x 1 cm). Gift of Irma Boom. Photo: Jonathan Musikar
“Tutti i Motori Ferrari,” a catalogue of Ferrari engines designed by the Dutch graphic artist Irma Boom is also in MoMA’s design collection. Its soft, outer cover displays the Ferrari prancing horse logo on a silver-colored background that looks to be made of a fluid version of same the aluminum alloy used for F1 engine blocks; the interior plates showcase the evolution of the engines throughout Ferrari’s history. (A flip through of the pages of “Tutti I Motori Ferrari” begins at the one minute mark in the video “20 books by Irma Boom.”)
Before AUTObodies MoMA’s Ferrari 641-2 was first on view in the 1993 exhibition Designed for Speed: Three Automobiles by Ferrari. It can presently be found hanging on the wall in MoMA’s Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Education and Research Building lobby, like a perfect portrait of a high-performance machine.



Volgens wijlen Enzo Ferrari is het succes van een raceauto voor meer dan vijftig procent afhankelijk van de motor. Elementen zoals de aërodynamica en de versnellingsbak zijn daaraan ondergeschikt: zij moeten de pk’s overbrengen op het asfalt. Een liefhebber van sportauto’s zal ook eerst naar de motor vragen en hoe zwaar de auto is. Pas daarna wordt gekeken naar het uiterlijk. De glazen achterklep van de nieuwste Ferrari, de Enzo, is daarom eigenlijk een hommage aan de motoren, geheel in de geest van de oude Ferrari zelf. Onder het glas ligt een 6-liter V12-motor, die met zijn 660 pk van de Enzo de snelste straatauto ter wereld maakt.

Lichtelijk obsceen is het wel, zo’n motor onder glas. Bij de introductie van de Enzo presenteerde Ferrari echter nog een eerbetoon voor de motoren, zij het bescheidener van opzet: een boek met daarin alle motoren, vanaf 1946 tot nu. Een droom voor Ferrari-fans. Er zijn 82 motoren opgenomen, ordelijk gerangschikt op familie; de V6-motoren oftewel zescilinders, de achtcilinders, de tiencilinders, de twaalfcilinders (favoriet bij Ferrari zelf) en de motoren met cilinders in lijn.

De huidige baas van Ferrari, Luca di Montezemolo, is zo tevreden met het boek dat hij het liefst alle tweeduizend exemplaren weggeeft aan relaties. “De directeur communicatie van Ferrari belde mij enthousiast op toen het boek door de drukker werd bezorgd”, vertelt Irma Boom, de ontwerpster van het boek All Ferrari Engines/Tutti i Motori Ferrari. “Daar spreekt waardering uit. Het gaat gepaard met veel theater, en dat heeft zijn charme.”

Ferrari kwam bij Boom terecht door een boek dat bij de Biënnale van Venetië is uitgegeven. Na haar werk uitvoerig bestudeerd te hebben, vroeg de directeur communicatie haar een boek over de motoren van Ferrari te maken. Boom kreeg carte blanche. “Dat vond ik wel bijzonder, omdat het een onbekende opdrachtgever voor mij was.” Een aantrekkelijke opdracht voor Boom, want ze heeft iets met auto’s. In tegenstelling tot veel anderen is zij altijd al geneigd om meteen de motorkap open te doen. Zoals zij niet kan ontwerpen zonder zich te verdiepen in de inhoud van een boek.

“Ik heb de motoren ingedeeld in de families (V12, V10, V8 etc), wat een heel goed beeld geeft van de ontwikkeling van een familie. Daarna zijn de motoren chronologisch gerangschikt. Bij elke motor staat een model van de auto waar de motor in geplaatst is. Het ontwerp heb ik volledig uitgevoerd om zo duidelijk mogelijk te zijn over mijn bedoelingen. Naar aanleiding van het ontwerp is de tekst geschreven en heb ik alle beelden van de motoren ontvangen. Ik heb geen enkele restrictie opgelegd gekregen. Het enige wat ik jammer vind, is dat ik de zogenaamde ‘exploded views’ niet kon gebruiken. Dat is te geheime informatie.”

Op andere punten kreeg Boom wel haar zin, zoals bij de speedbootmotor uit 1953. Moest die wel in het boek? Ja, want een motor is een motor, stelde Boom. Ferrari bleek zelfs bereid om een kleine aanpassing te doen aan de huiskleur geel, waar een toefje magenta aan is toegevoegd. Een verandering in het heilige kleurschema? Dat was tot nu toe alleen Formule 1-sponsor Marlboro gelukt. Maar die maakt jaarlijks tientallen miljoenen euro’s over. “Het vertrouwen dat ze in mij stelden was groot en dat is een belangrijke voorwaarde voor mijn manier van werken en het ontwerproces.”





















maandag 27 oktober 2014

Stellungen by Jesper Fabricius Incredibly Small PhotoBooks Paul Kooiker Erik Kessels Photography


Stellungen
Jesper Fabricius
Artist booklet with 24 full-page figures in a four-colour offset print, designed by Åse Eg Jørgensen, Jesper Fabricius, Ebbe Stub Wittrup
Paperback, 24 pages, 14,8x21 cm, edition of 500
Released 09/2011
ISBN 978-3-941601-52-9

For his collages Jesper Fabricius often uses picture and text snippets out of porn magazines of the 1970s. "Stellungen" is a reproduction of a magazine that served Fabricius as source material. The windows that result from cutting out certain subjects lead to a see-through to following pages which provokes a specific almost cubistic tension regarding both form and content.

Incredibly Small PhotoBooks Paul Kooiker Erik Kessels
For several years, Paul Kooiker and Erik Kessels have organized evenings for friends in which they share the strangest photo books in their collections. The books shown are rarely available in regular shops, but are picked up in thrift stores and from antiquaries. The group’s fascination for these pictorial non-fiction books comes from the need to find images that exist on the fringe of regular commercial photo books. It’s only in this area that it’s possible to find images with an uncontrived quality. This constant tension makes the books interesting. It’s also worth noting that these tomes all fall within certain categories: the medical, instructional, scientific, sex, humour or propaganda. Paul Kooiker and Erik Kessels have made a selection of their finest books from within this questionable new genre. Incredibly small photobooks is the second volume (after Terribly awesome photobooks) showing this amazing collection.

An Interview With Jesper Fabricius – by Rebecca O’Keefe
My first encounter with the work of Jesper Fabricius, was in 2009 while I was an intern at Printed Matter Inc. At the time, I was making collages and while at the store I would pick up every book I saw that contained found images or cut outs of any sort. It was during one of my days there that I picked up Kunsthaefte nr. 1, and found a 6 page, 11.5” x 8” pamphlet of simple cut outs with a beautiful color palette. I continued to follow Jesper’s work over the next few years, purchasing a few copies of Pist Protta, Stellungen, published by Lubok, and other Space Poetry titles (Jesper’s imprint). I waited until I left my full time job at Printed Matter to buy Kunsthaefte nr. 1. Knowing where it sat on the shelves for about three years — mostly untouched because of how thin it was — I already felt it was mine. After finally paying $3 for it, I spent the next three months purchasing every other issue of the Kunsthaefte series (22 in all, with two more on the way). I also started e-mailing Jesper.
What attracted me to Jesper’s books was that they were naughty. Some were whole pamphlets full of cut-outs of nipples and crotches. I’ll be the first to admit I love a dirty book, and as a bookseller have found that most others do as well. Some of the books are just dedicated to hair, and in many he considers the subjects’ relationship to interior space. Of course they contain much more than this, and over the past few months I have grown fond of Jesper’s other artwork, most notably his super 8 films.
At the time of my discovery of Jesper’s work, I had yet to accept my belief that our attraction to images or objects, regardless of their content or use, is one of a sexual nature. I saw a freedom and confidence in Jesper’s maneuvering of images that I had been trying to create myself, and I proudly admit that his collage work has been of the highest influence on my own. Most importantly, I saw humor and playfulness in his publications. If I’m going to pick up a dirty book, I can only hope it will make me laugh.
I’ve e-mailed Jesper many times for a variety of reasons. I asked him where I could purchase more of his titles, if he would send books to a variety of projects I have participated in, and finally, if I could interview him for this piece. Because I have never met Jesper, and I’ve never really told him what his work has meant to me, this opportunity provided me with the benefit of finally asking a few questions that have been on my mind. I don’t know if I will ever have the pleasure of meeting Jesper, or traveling to see one of his foreign shows, but the distance between us has proven to make the discovery of his work all the more fulfilling for me. It is easy to “discover” art through the Internet and communicating with an artistic circle, but to become acquainted with an artist purely by chance — while looking through a bookshelf — is truly something to cherish.
Jesper Fabricius is a Danish artist living and working in Denmark. He has recently shown his work in Glasgow and Oslo, and has been making artists’ books for close to four decades. If you’d like to find out more about him, check out his website or the shelves of artists’ bookstores. His work is best when you discover it on your own.
Can you write a bit about how you got started making artists’ books? What was the first one that you made, and why did you think that publishing your work in book form would be a good experience?
The first book I made and published was “Kontainer” in 1980, and I made it with 3 fellow artists (Claus Egemose, Jesper Rasmussen, Joergen Brandt Birman). The idea was to make a catalogue with photos from an exhibition we made in 1979. Then we thought, that we could put a lot of other things in, like drawings, text, poems etc., and we printed 2 extra colours, which made it look quite nice and very much different from the show. It became a thing in itself.
How does creating artists’ books connect to your general art practice?
My work is very connected to the making of books, partly in the magazine Pist Protta, which is an ongoing collective work (since 1981), about experiencing and challenging the format and idea of the magazine.
What motivates you to make art, and what themes, concepts, or imagery inspire your work?
In my personal work, I’m very interested in organizing found pictures (and text pieces) which is sometimes very good in the format of books and booklets. The printed book also has this very important status, to confirm your artistic statement. And I really like the democratic idea that many people can have your work, and it is much cheaper than the original works of art, but is equal in its statement.
How many books in all do you think you have published?
I think I might have published about 300 titles including Pist Protta and Kunsthaefte.
You seem to have branched out in a few different directions with your work, from Pist Protta to Kunsthaefte, and others. How does each of these series differ from the other, and do you have a favorite?
I have done a lot of different books, like artists books, catalogues, poetry, photo books. Not all of them were good. I really like Bill Burns: Dogs and Boats and Airplanes – told in the form of Ivan the Terrible, where the context changes the meaning of quite every day photography. My own “Unge Kunstner Bohemer i slutningen af 70´erne” actually does the same in telling about how to become an artist. Pist Protta 34 – 45 is an issue of the magazine only containing the 12 covers to issues to imagine. There is no content, though some of the covers (which are all different sized, like all other Pist Prottas) do have some very interesting lists of content. I think that´s my favorite.
How do you get your work out to the public, as in distribution, display, and sales?
Distribution, getting the books and magazines to bookstores and subscribers is hard work. Sometimes I go to book fairs, which is nice, you can show a lot of your books and meet people.
Does it matter to you that you make a profit from publishing your work, and who in particular do you hope to reach with it?
My ideal reader could be a young person, who finds this strange book/magazine at a remote library or second hand bookstore and he/she would sense a feeling of freedom. About the money, I do get some grants, which makes it possible for me to survive and publish together with the income from book sales. But actually most of my income comes from exhibiting art, lecturing (a little) and other art related activities.
Can you describe the roles that both erotica and humor play in your publications? I was first drawn to your work because of your playful use of what could be called pornographic images, and would like to hear more about where you find the imagery that you use in your books.
I use a lot of material from porn magazines from the 70´s. It was the golden years of pornography in Denmark (and Sweden). I get them from small bookstores for used books (antiquariats). It´s a way of collecting and generating material for work. They are not only for books but collages as well. I also use text from art magazines, pornography, scientific books. The combination of things that are not connected, and the mingling of high and low culture often make it very humorous. And of course I do change the status of the pornography into high art modernism. Actually, you can also see me playing with hierarchies in the latest Pist Protta 70. There the theme is sculpture, but then there are also photos of sculptures or what would look like sculpture.
I love the community of independent publishers and publications because of the circle of friends I have made through it. Do you have a circle of artists and/or publishers with which you enjoy working and communicating? I know you recently published a small book with LUBOK. Have you published with any other groups?
There are quite a few small and independent publishers here in Denmark, but it is also a small community. To make some events and fairs we often have to work together. I have done a nice thing for the art magazine ARK from Aarhus. Last year I did STELLUNGEN (POSITIONS) for Lubok in Leipzig, Germany. This year I did a thing for Feil Forlag in Oslo, Norway and HET ANDRE BEHR PAMFLET 22 by Boekie Woekie, books by artists, Amsterdam, Holland. I am supposed to do a new booklet for Lubok in September in connection to an exhibition in their showroom in Leipzig.
What role does the internet play in your practice? I know you have a website which archives many of your titles. Does having an internet presence matter to you?
I must say, I’m not really interested in the internet. It is kind of useful, but I don’t feel that it is my media. I could imagine it would be good for small films, a media I worked with years ago.





zondag 26 oktober 2014

The Erotic and the Everyday Erotos Nobuyoshi Araki Photography

Erotos.

Tokyo: Libro Port Publishing, 1993. First Edition. Quarto. Black and white images with many closeups of food, body parts, plants, etc.

The erotic and the everyday

His images of bound women may be shocking, but Nobuyoshi Araki's work is full of life, says Adrian Searle

The GuardianAdrian Searle Tuesday 5 June 2001 03.19 BST 
A first encounter with the photographs of Nobuyoshi Araki is likely to be confusing - an occasion of pleasure, fascination and alarm. The sheer quantity and density of images, the sense of a whole world recorded, is daunting. In the dialogues between images, in his great walls of colliding imagery, there is a constant oscillation between carefully posed and constructed theatricality and snapshot immediacy and spontaneity. Here we find private fantasies acted out, voyeuristic and pornographic scenarios, photo-album mementos, games with plastic dinosaurs, flowers, portraits, street scenes, nudes, details.

The first comprehensive British exhibition of Araki's work, now running at the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham, has generated predictable tabloid shock. The local press have dubbed the 61-year-old Japanese artist "Wacky Araki", and fulminated against the display of his images in a gallery that advertises itself as "family friendly". Araki has also been through the mill of censorship in Japan, where shows have been closed by the authorities. Even though the Ikon's exhibition is an official event in the Japan 2001 festival, and has the support of the Japan Foundation, some doubt whether all his work will make it back to his homeland without being seized at the border.
The disquiet Araki provokes stems from his preoccupation with sexual imagery, in which the invariable focus is on the female body. In Araki's work women expose themselves in the street, lounge about on beds, pose like life models and porn stars, or go about their day naked. In his photographs they are often presented in extreme, elaborate and ritualistic forms of physical bondage: they are tied to bedposts, or bound up in cars; they dangle, fully made-up and dressed in kimonos, from complicated arrangements of ropes.
The whole of Araki's work can itself be seen as a knot of intentions and desires. His models' complicity, their willing subjugation, is never in any doubt; but that, somehow, isn't entirely the point. Maybe the tabloids are right. Araki's work is as shocking as it is full of life. In the end, you have to take Araki's work as a whole - and there is a very great deal more to it than the sex - or not at all. You can't sieve out the apparently unconscionable and hope to be left with anything other than a sanitised half-truth. You can't, in other words, keep the artist's portraits and flowers, but get rid of the old man with the rope tricks, the camera and the girls.
Araki sees his models as partners, believing that his photographs somehow collapse the distance between his subjects and himself. As for the bondage, it is pure theatre, and something of an art form in the way it manipulates and presents the body. Unlike, for example, the bondage in some of surrealist Hans Bellmer's work, or the gruelling sadomasochistic images in Robert Mapplethorpe's work, Araki's photos never show us female flesh as trussed meat. Araki has said that it was never a matter of tying girls up: "What I was aiming at was the female heart. That's what I wanted to put in shackles. As time went on, the models, so to say, tied themselves up, bound themselves to me."
"I am a genius," he has said, and "I am the photograph." Araki's hunger as a photographer, the fact that he is driven by a desire to consume the world with his camera - and to produce hundreds of publications, thousands of images - cannot be anything other than a kind of mania. In certain works - the long sequence Tokyo Nostalgy, for example - hundreds of images are abutted, unframed, spreading their way across adjacent walls. They are a world entire. They devour you. Almost more like a movie than a sequence of photos, they let you lose yourself in the flow of images. But the oddest sensation - as your eye is jolted by an image of a snail crawling over the tip of a penis, or a cloud in an empty sky - is that it is you who are flowing through this world of static moments.
Araki, it appears, lives through the medium of photography. When his wife, Yoko, died in 1990, he published Sentimental Journey, a series of intimate photographs memorialising their relationship: Yoko in bed, smoking; Yoko dancing; Yoko's hand, emerging from under her hospital sheet, holding Araki's; Yoko dead in her open coffin, up to her neck in flowers; Yoko's shrine, in Araki's home; Yoko's grave.
These photographs have migrated into later series of works. The images keep turning up, like memories - no, not "like" memories, but as memories. Yoko permeates Araki's life and his art.
"Maybe I only had a relationship with her as a photographer, not as a partner," Araki has said. "If I hadn't documented her death, both the description of my state of mind and my declaration of love would have been incomplete. I found consolation in unmasking lust and loss, by staging a bitter confrontation between symbols. After Yoko's death, I didn't want to photograph anything but life - honestly. Yet every time I pressed the button, I ended up close to death, because to photograph is to stop time." He went on: "I want to tell you something, listen closely: photography is murder." His models, he continued, come to him demanding to be murdered. "Women always go home 'happy' after I take their pictures. I truss them up or shave them. Ha ha ha. Then I get love letters, saying, 'It was a happy day for me'."
The children in Araki's photographs from the 1960s are oblivious, like children everywhere, to anything other than the present, as they play and lounge about on the Tokyo streets. And then there are the Tokyo streets, with their flowers and their toy-shop Godzillas and dinosaurs - and somewhere among all this an encounter with death. Even Araki's flowers might be seen as a tribute to the dead, in as much as they are saucy, gorgeous, sexual and full of life - but then the artist has remarked that he finds erotic overtones in the moment when the flowers are wilting. Araki's "Erotos" images of details on a larger scale - an eye, an oyster, a piece of thread on the tongue, cutlery smeared with oil - seem to me to be hymns to the eroticised everyday. The world glistens. You eat the images with your eyes.
Everything is full of life in Araki's world - even the inanimate. The bowls of food in a restaurant, street furniture and leaves, houses, bare branches, old bells, patios after rain, the empty sky. This is a life lived inside the camera, the camera of his imagination, Tokyo's camera.
Germano Celant has called Araki's photos "mosaics of erotic solitude". A beautiful phrase. For Araki, Eros is everything, an erotic tinged with words we find difficult, the taboo words "sentimental" and "nostalgia". A woman suspended from ropes, balanced in space, her body opened to the sights of the camera in a theatrical demonstration of inescapable availability, turned into a doll or a sculpture - she is stilled before the camera, even before she is stilled again by the photograph itself. If she is a metaphor - and she has been seen as a metaphor for the rigid codes of conduct that govern Japanese society - she might be emblematic of that peculiar hovering suspension that occurs in photography, a suspension that is also a distance between moments, between desire and the act, between life and death. But, of course, she is a woman, and Araki is a man.
· Nobuyoshi Araki: Tokyo Still Life is at the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, until July 8. Details: 0121-248 0708. A version of this text appears in the catalogue to the exhibition.

Eros & Death: The World of Araki Nobuyoshi
Araki Nobuyoshi, Japan’s most infamous photographer, talks to David McNeill about age, sex and his unflagging work
If Araki Nobuyoshi likes you, he will take you to the cramped bar he owns in the Kabukicho red-light district of Tokyo.
This is the nighttime lair of perhaps the planet’s most prolific photographer of the female form, a man dubbed a misogynist, a porn-and-bondage-merchant and a genius, so you expect the outré and Araki doesn’t disappoint. The bar is wallpapered with Polaroid snaps of women: young, older, ripened by years in the water trade, some pigeon-toed and shy; others spread-eagled or violently hogtied, thrust up like Sunday roasts and skewered by his camera.
The middle-aged mama-san Araki employs to serve drinks flits about in a classy kimono, oblivious.
A visitors’ board records the celebrities who have come to pay homage. Bjork, who commissioned Araki to photograph her 1997 album cover Telegram, is there along with controversial Kids-director Larry Clark. “Thank you 4 a lovely day. U R a dirrrty devil,” says one of the more printable comments. The master himself dominates the room with the jittery, uncoordinated energy of a teenager, cackling at his own dirty jokes.
“Be careful of walking around and banging into things with that big cock of yours!” he shouts, as I stumble in the cramped space. Earlier he had told my bemused female companion some of his photographic techniques. “I sometimes blow into the breasts of women while I’m photographing them, to make them look bigger,” he says before exploding in laughter.
Araki Nobuyoshi
But visiting this bar is to merely sip stale water at the grand banquet of Araki’s work, which includes thousands of exhibitions and 350 books, an output he adds to at the staggering rate of 10 every year. His photos are always on display somewhere: a new collection runs at the Barbican in London as part of an exhibition called Seduce from Oct. 10th. Controversy inevitably follows. Last year, a protestor threw Molotov cocktails at an overview of his work inBelgium.
Perhaps his greatest work of art, however, is the iconic tuft-haired Araki himself, a man so famous in Tokyo he cannot walk down the street during the daylight hours. “Noooo, people come up and start snapping away with those damn mobile-phone cameras,” he complains. “They’re a nuisance. That’s not photography. There is no connection with the subject, no warmth.”
Not surprisingly, perhaps, Araki hates most modern photography. “When I look at photos I see no eros or passion. It doesn’t matter if it is a picture of a city landscape, or a woman or Mt. Fuji. They are all surface, no penetration,” he explains, face creased as he sips a martini. “The only photos I like to look at are my own, though it’s not modest to say so,” and he explodes in laughter again.
Araki can sometimes be spotted at night, walking around Shinjuku and talking to well-wishers. Tokyo’s DNA is imprinted so deeply on his soul that he claims to be incapable of photographing anywhere else. He was born in the downtown shitamachi district in 1940 and his life mirrors its rise from the smoldering ashes of World War II. He calls the city his “womb” and his “mother” and he seems to both feed off and reflect its vast energy as he pounds the streets, a stubby, comical force of nature armed with an arsenal of cameras.

From the collection at the Barbican in London
He has photographed other places, and even men, but it is Tokyo’s women he keeps coming back to, ever since picking up a camera in the sixties. “For me, taking photos is essentially an act of love,” he says. “I know when I look into the viewfinder and can’t sense the sexiness that it is going to be a bad photograph.” All creativity, he believes, comes from the sexual urge; he often compares the timing of depressing the shutter to sex. “I don’t take photographs with my head. I take them with my dick.”
Although often asked about his next projects, he never plans what he will shoot from one day to the next, and lives in the expectation of chance encounters. “I’m happy in the moment, when I meet someone new and I think we might hit it off. I know nothing about long-term happiness, only what I’m doing right now.” The sexual chemistry of those encounters is what makes a great photo, he believes. “You cannot put into words why you take photos, or what you’re doing when you’re taking them.”
Those libidinous instincts – calling it a philosophy might be pushing it – once made him one of the more shocking and transgressive photographers alive, though the days when a spread-eagled female body could bring the police calling are gone. Many of his photos are scattered around the Internet, along with much worse. Araki claims he never goes online. “I don’t even have a mobile phone.” His motivation, in any case, was never to challenge social or cultural rules, he explains. “I have no interest in changing society, though I might have changed two or three women in my time. I guess I’m stingy; I just don’t want to waste my time on other people. But if somebody says not to do something, it makes you want to do it all the more, right?”
Araki’s work, though, still unsettles, paradoxically – for a man who puts such store in the human warmth between photographer and model – because of the merciless, cold stare of his lens. Nothing is beyond the viewfinder’s unflinching gaze. He famously photographed his entire life with beloved wife Yoko, leaving little out: from their honeymoon and lovemaking to her struggle with cancer, and her cremated bones on a steel gurney.

From the collection at the Barbican in London
The best of his work goes well beyond female objectification and has a pathos that may help it outlive the pornographer tag, such as when Japanese poet Miyata Minori displays the surgery scars from the cancer that will eventually kill her.

Miyata Minori
His latest collection (“6X7 Hangeki”) includes its fair share of pliant, demure young things, but many of the older women stare back at the camera with a mixture of defiance, anger, openness, perhaps affection for the cherubic little man at the other end of the lens. As Guardian critic Adrian Searle recently put it, for Araki, faces are the real private parts.
“I’m trying to catch the soul of the person I’m shooting. The soul is everything. That’s why all women are beautiful to me, no matter what they look like or how their bodies have aged.” Bjork was one of his most memorable shoots. “Half virgin, half old bag, like a shaman…what a face,” he remembers.

Araki’s Bjork
For a man whose libido is so firmly bound up with his art, Araki is surprisingly unfazed by the prospect of decrepitude. He has no fear of getting bored of the camera or being unable to work. “Taking pictures is as natural as eating and then taking a dump for me. It has nothing to do with age. I never think about it, and I’m very diarrheic,” he cackles, then hits again on my female companion. “Be my wife for a day,” he pleads. “Let’s ditch this joint.”
His work is included in “Seduced: Art and Sex from Antiquity to Now,” which runs at the Barbican Art Gallery Londonfrom 12 October 2007 - 27 January 2008.
David McNeill writes regularly for a number of publications including the Irish Times and the Chronicle of Higher Education. He is a Japan Focus coordinator. This article appeared in London Timeout on October 12, 2007. Posted at Japan Focus on October 18, 2007.