This book examines the human body as a motif in Japanese photographic art of the 1990s, with particular reference to socio-cultural issues. Lena Fritsch analyses photographs by Ishiuchi Miyako, Izima Kaoru, Mori Mariko, Morimura Yasumasa, Yamanaka Manabu and Yanagi Miwa, focussing on problems of social and national identity, gender and religion.
How could Morimura’s gender be defined in his "Portrait (Futago)"? What kind of ‘social codes’ are presented in Mori’s "Tea Ceremony III"? The examined works have all been presented in the ‘Western’ art world. By discussing ten images in a detailed and critical way, Fritsch’s monograph provides a counterbalance to the short and commercial texts of exhibition catalogues and magazines. Furthermore, it explores the Japanese context of the works, such as the historical foundations of art and photography in Japan, the structures of the 1990s art system, and the presence of Japanese photographs in a ‘Western’ art market.
What is offered here has not been attempted before; there are few academic studies on Japanese photographs of the 1990s, let alone on their representations of the body. As both a ‘Western’ art historian and somebody whose personal history is influenced by the Japanese culture, Fritsch ‘interprets’ Japanese images to ‘Western’ readers. At the same time, she presents new viewpoints, which might also be interesting to a Japanese audience.