Attracted to the expressiveness of the group, Japanese photographer, Osamu Yokonami, created these stunning photographs.
ARTIST: OSAMU YOKONAMI
Osamu Yokonami explores collective identity through the use of group portraiture. His recent series, Assembly, gently illustrates the philosopher Gilles Deleuze’s idea, which claims that; “individuals have become “dividuals,” and masses, samples, data, markets, or ‘banks,’” by focusing on the personality of the group while each individual remains anonymous. The images depict indentically dressed girls acting in unison in familiar, dreamlike landscapes. With a subtle sense of humor, Yokonami creates idyllic, if not surreal, scenes that consider the fine line between innocence and vice and the interconnectedness we have with each other and with nature. Assembly is a macro lens counter-balance to his ongoing series,100 Children, in which Yokonami photographs uniformed schoolchildren, all the same age, holding fruit between the left shoulder and the left ear, demonstrating how uniqueness can shine through homogeneity of a standardized ideal.
Osamu Yokonami (b. 1967, Kyoto, Japan) has exhibited in solo and group shows in Tokyo and has participated in the Daegu Photo Biennial. His personal and commercial work is widely known in Japan with his images appearing regularly in numerous publications. Yokonami is based in Tokyo, Japan.
BEHIND THE SCENES
10 MINUTES WITH OSAMU
How did you become a photographer?
I attended art college, majoring in photography after I completed high school. For several years, I worked at a photo studio as an assistant to a freelance photographer before venturing out on my own in 1994.
How did the body of work “Assembly” come about i.e the story and the process?
Initially I had taken photos for another body of work “1000 Children” which documents individuals and their personalities while keeping their clothes and the situation they were placed in consistent. It then led me to explore the mirrored idea of the collective. I wanted to explore their collective individuality when clustered together as a group, letting them wander through natural landscapes. From my distant observations and photographing these uniformed teenagers, I realised they create a strong and beautiful presence as a group.
You focus a lot on children and portraiture. Does this body of work reflect something personal about yourself?
Right from the start, I knew I loved photographing people and I have always been attracted to explored the idea of “purity” and the “unknown”. In particular, the element of surprise that I find in children and youth really draws me closer to observe their movment, reaction and expression.
What message do you hope to convey through “Assembly”? Any central ideas that you are trying to communicate?
The things that one person can accomplish are limited. But sometimes, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and individuals when banded together can achieve a collective strength as a group, accomplishing bigger things in harmony.
Who are your influences and sources of inspiration?
Masaharu Ueda, another Japanese photographer who had made photos of Tottori Sand Dune, which is the largest sand dune in Japan. There are many others who inspire me as well.
What is in store for you (your plans) for the rest of 2014?
I am exhibiting “1000 Children” which runs until May 30 here in Tokyo. This coming summer, I will be having a more extensive show with both “1000 Children” and “Assembly” at Colissimo Gallery in Sasayama in this Summer.