Profile by John Sypal for Japan Exposures
Aya Fujioka’s photos are not those which espouse a refinement or a celebration of reality. The term “investigation” is inappropriate when attempting to relate them to any sort of exploration of the World. She is one of the few photographers whose pictures are perhaps best seen as evidence of intimate considerations from within the artist’s immediate physical and emotional presence.
Her first book, comment te dire adieu (for which she received the Visual Arts Photo Award grand prix in 2005) was born from a journey abroad but despite contextually understanding that she was a Japanese woman living and photographing in Europe this earlier body of work is anything but Travel Photography. Though this previous book referenced travel through nearly each and every picture I personally do not know if Fujioka travelled far from home when she created the content for her latest book I Don’t Sleep. It’s possible that many of the pictures were in fact taken directly within her family’s house. The majority seem to have been taken in Japan but yet again these images remain mute as objects expressing an evaluation of her native society.
Fujioka’s line of sight through a her camera often centers on a definite discernible object filling the frame. Her color palette is bolder than that of many of her female contemporaries in Japan. While it looks as though it might be easy to dismiss her pictures as “snapshots”, a second more thoughtful glance reveals an emotional pull which is less familiar than it ought to be.
Spending time with both of her books finds one her pictures truly building upon one another. Each turn of the page adds another reference point along a line which reveals through partialities the culmination of a personal emotional experience. It is about as close as one can get to being in another person’s head.
Rather than generalizations of any set and agreed upon feeling, Aya Fujioka’s photographs are distinctly mysterious, sensual, and unsettling in the way which few photographers are able to successfully create. Her ability to peer out and within each time she gazes through the viewfinder allows the realization of a body of work which is mesmerizing in it’s entirety.
Please also see the conversation between John Sypal and fellow Japan Exposures’ contributor Dan Abe about Fujioka’s I Don’t Sleep photobook.
I Don’t Sleep is available in the Japan Exposures Bookstore.
John Sypal, born and raised in Nebraska, USA, currently living in Matsudo city (Chiba Pref.). John has been exhibiting his photographs widely in the US and in Japan. His photographs are frequently featured in Japanese photo magazines. He is currently a member of Machikata Sampo Shashin Doumei (Walking Photographers Alliance). John also enjoys meeting people and photographs their cameras for tokyo camera style.