nobuyoshi araki's massive, new retrospective is surprisingly personal (and nsfw, obviously)
The Museum of Sex exhibit will look back at the controversial photographer's groundbreaking career.
"Araki No. 1, Tokyo." 2004. Photograph by Juergen Teller. Courtesy of the Artist.
Over the course of his decades-spanning career, Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki has been called “a madman, a pervert, and a genius.” In other words, he’s made quite the reputation for himself, thanks in large part to his extremely sexually explicit, controversial, images that systematically question and breakdown our traditional notions of “acceptable” art. His immense body of work tends to be centered around the major tenets on love, death, sex, and the places where those overarching themes intersect. This is perhaps most famously epitomized in his kinbaku-bi series featuring nude women constrained by ornate Japanese rope bondage. And it’s this almost 50-year commitment to exploring his country’s fraught relationship with censorship and erotica that has earned him a massive, new retrospective at New York City’s Museum of Sex.
The exhibit, titled The Incomplete Araki: Sex, Life, and Death in the Work of Nobuyoshi Araki, is curated around various themes the photographer has grappled with throughout his momentous career, such as sexism, ritual, obsession, self-expression, pornography, and the fetishization of East Asian women in art. The show also deals with Araki’s own relationship to his work as a form of autobiography, presenting his photos alongside personal narratives contributed by his collaborators, muses, critics, fans, and fellow photographers.
“I want to make photographs that maintain their incompleteness,” Araki says in a press release for the show. “I don’t want them to lose their reality, presence, speed, heat, or humidity. Therefore, I stop and shoot before they become refined or sophisticated.”
The Incomplete Araki will also feature artifacts and other visual material to help visitors position his work within a broader historical and social context of Japanese art history and postwar Japanese society. In addition, a huge, interactive installation will feature work from the 500+ photobooks Araki has published over his lifetime, meant to spark conversation over “the importance of dissemination, media, and form.”
The exhibit which opens today will run through August 31,2018 at Museum of Sex in New York City.