(Japan 1940 – )
32.3 x 40.9 cm image; 35.5 x 43.0 cm sheet
Nobuyoshi Araki is an internationally renowned Japanese photographer whose work daringly and explicitly confronts taboo subjects such as sex and death. Often polarizing for his unrestrained depiction of eroticism or grief, Araki’s work is both poignant and controversial.
Araki’s series ‘Ai no Balcony (balcony of love)’, produced between 1983 and 2011, is an extension of the work he produced as a tribute to his wife Yoko. Beginning with the photographs taken during the couple’s honeymoon in 1971 from the series ‘Sentimental Journey’, Araki photographed his wife until her death in 1990. Taken on the roof terrace of the apartment the couple shared, the images in ‘Ai no Balcony’ depict an emotionally charged domestic space. Most of the photographs are devoid of people and are instead populated with an assortment of symbolically loaded objects. These include the plastic toy dinosaurs that appear in various other series and which are often identified as avatars for Araki himself. Another recurring presence throughout Araki’s work is the couple’s cat Chiro who appears in many of the ‘Ai no Balcony’ photographs. Later, Araki photographed the cat’s death just as he had with his wife.
In these black and white photographs, the detritus of everyday life becomes a symbolic repository for past experiences and a visual expression of bereavement. Taken across different seasons, the photographs interrogate the passage of time and its emotional resonance.
Araki Nobuyoshi, Nobuyoshi Araki: Self. Life. Death, London, 2005, 208-209.
Araki Nobuyoshi, Ai no Balcony (Balcony of Love), Tokyo, 2012.