Critics’ Picks

Shizuka Yokomizo, all (V), 2008, color photograph, 57 1/2 x 47 1/4".

Tokyo

Shizuka Yokomizo

Wako Works of Art
6-6-9 Roppongi, Minato-ku Piramide Bldg 3F
October 18 - November 29

In portraying the expressions of strangers as they sink into quiet moments of introspection, or their uneasy gazes, unsure of who is photographing them from outside their first-floor windows, Shizuka Yokomizo’s work examines the relationship between herself and her subjects, in addition to her subjects’ relationship with themselves. “Untitled (Hitorigoto),” 2002, which can be roughly translated as “monologue” or “soliloquy,” depicts men and women of various nationalities seemingly lost in private moments of reflection. Often they are in dark interiors illuminated by the glow of artificial light sources, including a refrigerator and a bedside lamp. However, these moments are staged, and one’s suspension of disbelief is undercut by musings regarding the artifice required to construct the mood these images evoke.

Yokomizo has evoked a similar sense of paradox in her new series “all,” 2008, which depicts female prostitutes in London. Shot with soft natural lighting, including the diffused sodium-yellow glow of a street lamp seen through bedroom curtains, the red forms of the women fading into and out of blackness convey a palpable sense of the naked body’s vulnerability. Although several of the images emphasize nudity rather than the expressions on their faces—one is shown on all fours, bent over and facing away from the viewer—they are not sexualized. The male viewer cannot help but be reminded of his gender and relationships of power. Yet the interjection of kisses, made with pale lipstick on the surface of some of the photographs (in one, it has been placed on a woman’s face, while in another it rests on her stomach), is an affectionate reassertion of the woman-to-woman relationship through which the artist has engaged with her subjects.