For better or worse, in contemporary art it is common to see male photographers tend toward featuring landscapes and objects, and female photographers working on problems of shifting identities, family and the body. In this respect there is a strong lineage for Ayaka Yamamoto’s first Tokyo solo exhibition of beautifully executed images of European women, which is showing at the Taka Ishii Gallery, a space well known for representing some of the more established heavy-hitters of contemporary photography. Although Yamamoto’s subjects are exclusively women, social issues and feminism, as the artist herself is quick to point out, are not her concerns so much as exploring the female body as form, and examining the difficulty of comprehending one’s existence.
Yamamoto may not be interested in gender politics, but as her subjects are exclusively female it does make us wonder what principle is at work in making this choice and if there is any particular reason why her subjects, in this instance, are all non-Japanese. For the artist these are certainly deliberate decisions, but the rationale of “not being interested” in photographing men, or Japanese women as she puts it, is more intriguing than illuminating.