November 1st, 2006



A photograph from Sakiko Nomura photobook "Kuroneko".

I saw this picture on an exhibition called “Naked time” showed about half a year ago at the museum of Japanese culture in my town. It displayed works of Sakiko Nomura –  portraits of naked men and women, all of them considerably young, mostly lying or sitting on beds.

The scenes on photographs weren’t arranged in any particular way, set in some kind of anonymous space, like a hotel room, lacking any usual signs or telltales that might say something about the portrayed people’s identity.

The exhibition hall was brightly illuminated and rather small, visitors milling around within the little space. But somehow the intimacy of the situation on the portraits seemed to be seeping out of them, spreading from the scene out to the reality. It was as if the nudity of the portrayed people turned open and vulnerable not only them, but also those who looked at them. I didn’t feel the distance that usually exists between a viewer and an exhibit. It was like being let into their bedrooms, into their “naked time”.

It was amazing how much their faces and bodies seemed to tell, and yet how incomprehensible was this message. Their nakedness revealed only that each one of them was an unfathomable mystery. Their nudity concealed them well.


I don’t know why this picture fascinates me so much, but somehow I can’t get enough of it even after six months. This photograph is like  kaleidoscope – every time I look at the boy’s face, it seems to be a little different. It almost feels as if the boy’s mood changed!  Sometimes he seems sad, sometimes thoughtful, sometimes tired and dejected, and sometimes playful and seducing. Very young and innocent or mature and experienced, incredibly beautiful or unpleasantly scraggy.

 His expressions vary depending on whether I look straight at him, or tilting my head, whether I’m right in front of the picture or watching it from a distance, or accidentally catch its reflection in the mirror. Sometimes when I look into his eyes they seem to  be filled with tears but sometimes I can almost see a smile on his lips.

I do realize it’s merely a result of the optical laws and me projecting my own feelings onto the picture, but the longer I look at it, the more mesmerizing it gets.

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