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Nobuyoshi Araki's Blue Period/Last Summer: Arakinema
Blue Period/Last Summer: ArakinemaPhotography Nobuyoshi Araki, courtesy Session Press and Dashwood Books, Taka Ishii Gallery

See Nobuyoshi Araki’s lesser-known experimental film work

The Japanese photographer hopes a new book will reintroduce his career from a fresh perspective

One of Japan’s most prolific and controversial photographers, Nobuyoshi Araki, is set to release his new book Blue Period/Last Summer: Arakinema in December, which will focus on his lesser-known work in experimental film projects.

Renowned not only for his highly-sexualised images of Kinbaku-bi (“the beauty of tight binding”), but also for his Tokyo street scenes, his cat Chiro and explicit images of his late wife Yoko, the photographer hopes his new book will reintroduce his career from a fresh perspective.

The book features images from Araki’s little-known film series Arakinema, which ran from the late-80s until the mid-00s. Opening in 1986 at Cinema Rise in Tokyo, the photographer staged a live performance called Tokyo Monogatari (Tokyo Story). Using two projectors, he created a string of overlapping images which faded into one another. Accompanied by a musical soundtrack, the films were staged across the world, including a showing at the Barbican in 2005.

Blue Period & Last Summer characteristically feature nudes and portraits, alongside Tokyo landscapes and images of flowers. For both series, Araki altered the original photographs, using a chemical solution to bleach Blue Period – giving the images a dreamy, vintage feel – while adding coloured, transparent paint to images in Last Summer – for a futuristic journey into a messy, uncertain future.

“The two films should be seen as a set,” Araki explained, “since Blue Period is about the past and Last Summer is about the future. By removing colour using a chemical solution, Blue Period is about an act of subtraction (past), whereas adding colour to the images in Last Summer is about an act of addition (future).”

From a man who’s spent his career breaking taboos and sharing the most personal insights into his life, it’s insane to think there’s a whole hidden body of work to come out. Interviewed in the book, Araki says: “These two works are my tour de force”, describing the project as “just like life itself.”

Blue Period/Last Summer: Arakinema will be published on 1 December 2017 by Session Press and Dashwood Books