September 1st, 2005


Rinko Kawauchi keeps a diary

I'm asked sometimes "Who is your favourite photographer?" I reply, "Rinko Kawauchi".

Rinko Kawauchi is published by Little More, Tokyo. They helped her to public recognition, helped her win the Kimura Ihei Memorial Photo Award in 2001. (By the way, Little More's founder Masakazu Takei is a self-described yaakoo, or yakuza. He's also the publisher of visual magazine Foil.)

Rinko Kawauchi was shown this year at Fondation Cartier in Paris, and next year will be shown at Photographer's Gallery, London. Her sensibility will influence more people. More people will share my opinion that she's the best photographer working in the world just now.

Rinko Kawauchi said in her Giant Robot interview in 2003: "From the black ocean comes the appearance of light and waves. It helps you imagine birth. I want imagination in the photographs I take. It's like a prologue. You wonder, 'What's going on?' You feel something is going to happen."

Rinko Kawauchi is 33 years old. "She describes releasing the camera shutter as being as much a part of her life as drinking tea," says the Asahi Shimbun. They also report that she just kept smiling and said nothing when her classmates at school in Shiga Prefecture chatted excitedly about their favorite singers or TV programs. "I was always wondering why they liked that kind of thing,” she told Asahi Shimbun. "I really wasn’t interested in the things they cared about. I felt distant from them.”

Distant yet tender. It's a paradox, the same paradox you note when a loud-quiet popstar says "I hate hate!" or a political leader with a stick and baggy white nappies tells you to "resist peacefully!" The kind of confident, firm assertion of non-assertiveness you hear in bossa nova music or the music of Georges Brassens. The paradox you note in Ian Hamilton Finlay's work, when he carves a machine-gun and inscribes beneath it lines adapted from Virgil’s Eclogue VIII: “Flute, begin with me”.

If a machine-gun can be a flute, a flute can be a machine-gun.

Rinko Kawauchi has been described as "both heartwarming and unsettling at the same time". Photographer Kishin Shinoyama said: “Anyone who thinks her photos are designed to have a healing effect or produce some degree of happiness, which is trendy now, is making a big mistake. Her pictures are fearful. They are cruel and erotic.”

The French revolution, as sculpted by Ian Hamilton Finlay and filmed by Peter Greenaway, is both bloody and rational, Romantic and Classical, intoxicated and serene. Such tensions below that glossy, calm surface! Blood and death that underpins skin and life.

"I chose the word ‘utatane’ because it is in between being awake and being asleep. I like something with a subtle nuance.” I wanted to note that Rinko takes snapshots of daily life, but I pasted "napshots of daily life" by mistake. I liked the error and left it as it was.

Anyway, today I just wanted to signal to you that Rinko Kawauchi keeps a diary online. Here, for instance, are her thoughts and keitai photos from August 2005. You can translate the pages by pasting their URL into Amikai (be sure to click the righthand radio button). July is here.

"Money is scary... a living thing somehow... Is it a living thing or an amoeba?" (Rinko Kawauchi thinking aloud in her diary.)