Myths, memories in photographs

In more than 130 photographs, Between Love And Death: Diary Of Nobuyoshi Araki chronicles Japanese photographer Araki's relationship with his wife, essayist Yoko Aoki (above), who died of ovarian cancer in 1990. Nguan's Singapore depicts slices of li
In more than 130 photographs, Between Love And Death: Diary Of Nobuyoshi Araki chronicles Japanese photographer Araki's relationship with his wife, essayist Yoko Aoki (above), who died of ovarian cancer in 1990. PHOTO: NOBUYOSHI ARAKI, COURTESY OF YOSHIKO ISSHIKI OFFICE, TOKYO
In more than 130 photographs, Between Love And Death: Diary Of Nobuyoshi Araki chronicles Japanese photographer Araki's relationship with his wife, essayist Yoko Aoki (above), who died of ovarian cancer in 1990. Nguan's Singapore depicts slices of li
Nguan's Singapore depicts slices of life here.PHOTO: NGUAN

One exhibition is a photo diary of an artist's late wife, the other captures the mundane and magical aspects of Singapore

A deeply personal series of photographs that prolific Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki took of his late wife is at the heart of the sixth edition of the Singapore International Photography Festival.

Between Love And Death: Diary Of Nobuyoshi Araki, with more than 130 photos, is the largest exhibition of Araki's work here.

It chronicles his relationship with his wife, essayist Yoko Aoki, who died of ovarian cancer in 1990.

The photographs come from eight series done between 1963 and this year. They are done in a confessional diaristic style, which Araki describes as "shishashin" or "I-photography".

He is known for his controversial photography, which blends eroticism and bondage. The festival exhibition has an Advisory 16 (some nudity) rating, although the nude photos in this case are of his wife during their honeymoon in 1971.

Araki, 78, will not be accompanying the exhibition to Singapore for health reasons. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008 and a head tumour led to partial blindness. His Uganbochi series alludes to his failing right eye through the imagery of a cracked lens.

  • BOOK IT / SINGAPORE INTERNATIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY FESTIVAL

    WHERE: Various venues

    WHEN: Today to Dec 9, various times

    ADMISSION: $50 for festival pass

  • BETWEEN LOVE AND DEATH: DIARY OF NOBUYOSHI ARAKI

    WHERE: Deck, 120A Prinsep Street

    WHEN: Today to Dec 9; noon to 7pm on Tuesdays to Saturdays; noon to 5pm on Sundays; closed on Mondays

    ADMISSION: $15 at the door, free with festival pass

  • SINGAPORE BY NGUAN

    WHERE: 02-21, Block 9 Gillman Barracks, 9 Lock Road

    WHEN: Saturday to Oct 28; noon to 7pm on Tuesdays to Saturdays; noon to 5pm on Sundays; closed on Mondays

    ADMISSION: Free

    • For more information, go to sipf.sg

The festival will run from today to Dec 9. This is its biggest edition so far, with 11 exhibitions as well as 50 public and education programmes. This year's theme is Like You, Me, Everybody Else.

Also featured at the festival are 19 local artists, the highest number in an edition to date.

Photographer Nguan, known for his dreamy, pastel-hued visions of Singapore, will be the first Singaporean with a solo exhibition at the festival.

Nguan, an enigmatic figure who goes only by one name, has 149,000 followers on Instagram.

He has published three books, Shibuya (2010), How Loneliness Goes (2013) and Singapore (2017), which was named in The New York Times Magazine as one of the best photo books of the year.

The 44-year-old says of his work: "A young country depends on its artists and dreamers to identify its symbols and construct its myths. I want my photographs to imbue our landscape with an emotional grandeur that may previously have been imperceptible.

"The work portrays daily Singaporean life as being simultaneously mundane and magical, while acknowledging some of the tensions and contradictions in our society."

Other exhibitions in the festival include Briton Mark Neville's social documentary projects in Child's Play And Other Stories, Canadian still life photographer Laura Letinsky's Still and Chinese photographer Jiang Jian's Archives On Orphans, which documents the journeys of 400 orphans from 2004 to 2014.

The festival will also stage an inaugural photobook showcase of 82 books shortlisted by an international panel at the National Design Centre. After its debut here, the showcase will travel to other cities in Asia.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 06, 2018, with the headline 'Myths, memories in photographs'. Print Edition | Subscribe