PRINT December 1991


THESE FOUR IMAGES are from LamentsFrom Close Range/Skyscapes, a two-volume photographic work by Nobuyoshi Araki, to be published this month by Shincho-Sha, in Tokyo. The work,as the title hints, is a eulogy for the photographer’s wife and principal model, Yoko,who died of cancer almost two years ago. Araki is known for his versatile style—from hormone to pheromone, from sexscape to cityscape—but he describes all his work as “I photography,” in reference to the Japanese literary genre of the “I-novel,” the novel in epistolary form.

The Laments series vividly conveys Araki’s struggle to restore his identity after his wife’s relatively sudden death. His previous book, Sentimental Journey/Winter Journey, also dedicated to Yoko and published soon after she died, reminded many in his audience of “the morning after”. . . the morning after any of us had lost a loved one. Streets,train stations, the couple’s apartment—the world seemed saturated with loss and emptiness.

Laments shows Araki’s more extended vision of the time and space’in which he gradually accepted the fact of Yoko’s death—yet this is a place where flowers and fruit seem always in decay. As one meticulously knits a soft cloth stitch by stitch, or stares myopically at things around the room just to stop one’s eyes from being trapped by loss, so he gazed and objects, at air, sky, clouds, at himself.

Kazue Kobata