37 Greenpoint Avenue
Katrin Paul, Tokyo, Japan
Booklyn is proud to premiere this vivid trilogy in the Americas.
Slipcase Cover made from red linen.
Recently acquired by the New York Public Library
skindeep focuses on the Japanese representation of women in advertising, print-media, and Manga (Japanese comics and graphic novels). I am especially interested in conventional concepts of beauty, as well as their connection to the role of women in the family unit, and the modification of this role from one generation to the next. I have "quoted" these representations by photographing them from print and/or as they appear in their public locations. I combined these images with my photographs of "real" women and places. One important aspect of this juxtapositioning is the resulting connection to Western stereotypes of Japanese women - either as sex symbols or as symbols of tradition. Another result is the frequent impossibility of distinguishing between the quoted image and the real portrait, showing the subjects’ tendency to emulate the "public" ideal of beauty, or the dream world of Manga.
For the work Playing Summer I photographed ganguro girls celebrating their youth and the last summer of the century in a very playful way. Ganguro, which translates to "dark face", is a short-lived phenomenon that started in Tokyo in late 1998, had its peak in the summer of 1999, and disappeared again soon after the beginning of 2000. The ganguros are an "anti-cute" embodiment of ultimate narcissism. These girls tan their skin; they wear high-heeled shoes to lengthen their legs, have colored contact lenses, and bleach their hair, denying any physical characteristics that are supposed to be typically Japanese. They also have been called yamamba, "mountain witch", a figure from traditional Japanese fairytales due to their garish make up. In stumbling pairs or groups, the ganguro girls hang out at Shibuya. Their colors of preference: pink, baby-blue and silver.
The work Playing Summer uses a "double-take" technique: two similar images taken shortly after each other and juxtaposed on one double-page spread. At first glance they appear to be the same. But the small shift in perspective creates an illusion of movement as well as an element of surprise—equally startling as the ganguros themselves.
This work is a portrait of Japanese women who are aged over 70 years. A generation that grew up with a different appreciation of womanhood, in which the woman subordinates herself to her family and suppresses her own urges.
City of Origin, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
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