An exhibition of photographs by Miyako Ishiuchi is on show until Nov. 24 at Gallery Deux in Meguro Ward, Tokyo, showing the nails, hands, fingers and feet of men of various nationalities, ages and occupations.

"1961-1991" gelatin-silver print by Miyako Ishiuchi (2001)

Ishiuchi achieves a sense of intimacy by focusing on the bodily extremities -- those parts that tend to remain relaxed even when people are exposed to a camera.

Born in Gunma Prefecture in 1947, Ishiuchi studied at Tama Art University where she majored in textile art. However, from the mid-1970s, she began to take photographs, winning several prizes, including the prestigious Ihei Kimura Award in 1979. She was soon established as one of the leading female photographers in Japan.

At first, she took photographs of cities, towns and buildings, but from the mid-'80s, her interest switched to the human body. The uniqueness of her work is that she centers her attention on parts of the body, not the whole.

In her series, "1947," she photographed the hands and feet of women who were born in the same year as she was, with the pictures tracing each of the woman's lives and the reflections of their age. "Scars," in 1999, took as its theme wounds caused by accidents or illness. What both series have in common is that their subjects would usually seem shocking or painful to the naked eye, but monochrome renders them unrealistic -- thereby crossing the border to the world of imagination.

The current exhibition features 21 photographs, with a talk show scheduled for Sept. 28, featuring Ishiuchi and writer Toshiyuki Horie, a recipient of the Akutagawa Award.

Through the lenses of Ishiuchi's camera, the parts of the body awaken as if from a dream, each part coming to life and telling stories of their own.