Here are some photographs by one of my favorite photographers of all time Nobuyoshi Araki. He is most known for his bondage photographs of Japanese women in the bondage art form called "Kinbaku," which literally means "the beauty of tight bondage." Araki is probably the most prolific photographer ever and photographs anything from the Tokyo streets and the diaristic to extreme bondage and flower still lives, all raging with sexuality, love, and death. He says "photography is the medium of death, as long as you are using photography you are conscious of death, you can't get beyond death." No matter what his subject, his work is mostly always about how sex and death relate to each other. In response to the consistent images of bondage he says "it's never a matter of tying girls up, what I was aiming at was the female heart..." What many see as violent, threatening, or degrading seems to me more empowering to the models than painful or embarassing. They are totally trusting and happy to be floating or suspended in air, not as victims or objects, but as deities or ascended beings captured safely in that moment forever.
Here he is working on a new technique called Koushoku, using his giant silver gelatin prints as canvases for abstract painting. Also photographing his muse and lover Kaori dancing.
This video is adorable of Kaori dancing and Araki running around her taking polaroids. This is so natural and such a celebration of nudity and creativity, i love it.
If you want to learn more about Araki watch the documentary Arakimentari by Travis Klose featuring interviews with models, Bjork, Richard Kern, and of course Araki. Here's a shoot he did of my favorite new performer Lady Gaga. Gaga said "he did not photograph my image, he photographed my soul" and almost unbelievably Lady Gaga is the first American woman he's photographed.
Gaga is so kick ass in this interview. I love how encouraging and supportive she is of creativity and expression. She's constantly giving young avant-garde designers a mainstream stage while challenging the traditional ideas of what is sexy. She puts it perfectly when responding to his questions about sexuality as a distraction in her music. Watch other Gaga interviews at Nicola Formichetti's awesome Gaga-centric blog.
When asked if she was a feminist she responded like many women do, automatically "I'm not a feminist...i love men..." as if feminists don't love men or celebrate male cultural staples, like beer. Gaga responds that way because a lot of men (and women!) try to make sexually creative and empowered girls feel ashamed, or that they couldn't possibly be pro-girl without being anti-boy. I recently read Feministing blogger Jessica Valenti's book Full Frontal Feminism which discusses society's misconceptions and stereotypes that surround feminism today and how it makes young girls afraid to call themselves a feminist based on the negative connotations. They so quickly respond "I'm not a feminist, but..." There is a lot of information and interesting ideas in the book about the evolution of sexist culture and how feminism should be as relevant today as it ever was.