Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Maki Kawakita - Tokyo Kabuki-Pop!
Maki Kawakita's dynamic images are high concept and high fashion. Her rapid rise in photography stems from bold originality and boundless imagination.
Her Tokyo Kabuki-Pop images are full of bold colors, drawn graphic elements and seemingly just about anything else Kawakita can manage to fit into the frame. She doesn't seem to pay any heed to the “rules” regarding what may or may not be considered photography. The feel of motion-filled performances may be derived from her Kabuki background, but it's the surreal colors and designs that correlate to her experiences growing up in modern Tokyo.
“Tokyo is a surreal place,” she explains. “It's the hyper-real world. Growing up in this mingled-culture place is beyond surreal. Everything is making sense with not-making-sense elements. If you see how Japanese kids dress up, it's significant to know this. I like to make a narrative in my photos like Manga [Japanese comics], but it doesn't always have to make sense.”
The individual elements of her photographs don't always make sense, but the visual designs do, and that's sort of the point. Her work is all about style—both her own and that of the fashions she's working with—and sometimes being illogical with content makes more of a stylish impact. She remains logical, though, when it comes to the graphic design and visual nature of her creations. This, too, she says comes from a tradition in her upbringing.
“My grandmother is an artist and instructor of ikebana,” she says. “There is such a discipline to ikebana—we learn about the balance of line, point and volume, graphical knowledge and traditional angles to flowers when you place them in a vase—and I've been learning this from her. She always says to find something outrageous, not to create something that has been done before, and to do something fresh and against normal.”
Whether she's creating her surreal Tokyo Kabuki-Pop images out of multiple photographs and graphical elements, or making by comparison simple, single, straight captures of one subject in the studio, it's all an expression of Kawakita's personal vision. Like Kabuki, ikebana or Japanese scroll painting, she puts her heart and soul into everything she creates.
“With or without postproduction work, I'm cooking the idea for a long time before I do the shoot,” Kawakita says. “Shakespeare said the world is like a stage in which we're all players. I perform through the lens. What you see is real, but may not be real.”
To see more of Maki Kawakita's photography, visit www.makiphoto.com.
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