May 3, 2008

Hiroyo Kaneko

The American tendency is to associate any display of skin with sex and because of this I imagine many here would have a hard time wrapping their minds around the traditional Japanese sentos (public baths) and onsens (hot springs) you find all over Japan. In the most traditional village sentos families, neighbors, and co-workers bathe together, male/female, young/old with everyone gloriously and unabashedly naked. During my visits to Japan I was sometimes invited to join friends for baths after work and was always struck by the family atmosphere in these places—everyone with their little washcloths resting on their heads washing, gossiping, and just enjoying the warm soak.

Hiroyo Kaneko's series titled Sentimental Education gives us a bit of the feel of these places. When I compare these nude figures to the contrived "we're all so so naked and we don't care!' figures in Ryan McGinley's recent work I'm reminded that often the best way to showcase someone's humanity is by catching them in the middle of their most ordinary daily rituals.

Related: Sento at 6th and Main by Gail Dubrow.

posted at 01:14 AM by raul

Filed under: photographers

TAGS: japanese photography (2) onsens (1) sentos (1)


05/04/08 10:13 AM

wonderful new pics of North Korea by a great French photog

05/04/08 07:33 PM

The photograph is beautiful but in particular, I loved how your ending line captures the essence of what makes it so.

05/05/08 04:21 PM

Kaneko's work is so very beautiful.

I'll hold off on the Ryan McGinley bashing ; ) because I think Ryan's a genius.

That said...really love Sentimental Education.

05/06/08 01:04 PM

I'm glad so start seeing some ryan mcginley critics finally even if it was said as an aside... he work is pretty but completely hollow.

04/05/09 12:18 PM

Hiroyo just won the Review Santa Fe prize. Congrats Hiroyo!

04/19/09 04:09 PM

I completely agree with your thoughts on how Kaneko seems to go beyond the surface by photographing people in the midst of daily routine. She says herself that the soothing hot water of the baths help to open people up in these photographs. To me what makes these work is that they seem 'honest': not contrived, not overly lyrical, not projecting.

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