Posted:Jun 26, 2007

Childhood Memories: Midori Mitamura photography exhibition at LammFromm

The color and light in Midori Mitamura's digital photography fills the gallery with a sense of nostalgia and innocence.

The 16 works on display were shot in a very artistic community of Koln in Germany, where many young people have settled in during the 1970s and created a free-flow ing lifestyle. The seductive light and lively color of Mitamura’s works conveys the Utopia-like atmosphere and the sense of freedom and joy in the community. She allows viewers to linger in this paradise, separated from the real world, indulging in the smells and sounds of her summer experience, so full of heat and liberty.  

The children’s nudity in her photography represents openness and fragments of happiness. While the photos are amazingly beautiful, the soft skin almost looks artificial, making the children look as though they are dolls, creating a certain sense of unrealism in these photos. However, the images’ pastel colors and the pale skin of the subjects gives them the flavor of soft pornography. I couldn’t help feeling confused when faced with the photo of a boy’s exposed genitals, portrayed in such a way that I initially interpreted the image as a plastic sculpture. The image seemed out of place and unneccesary, making me feel awkward about looking at the boy among the summery, flowery sceneries. Would I have felt fine looking at this nude if it had been Michelangelo’s David in Florence? Regardless of the context, it is puzzling to interpret images of naked children because they are healthy and pure and should not be objectified or used to represent what adults want to represent.

This exhibition presents a paradox in which I felt reluctant over the exposure of the children’s bodies, while at the same time excited about the beauty of the freedom their bodies expressed. I think that whether or not a viewer likes these kind of paradoxes, it is important to feel confusion when looking at art because the experience hightens our consiousness and challenges our existing knowledge. Mitamura definitely brings viewers back to their childhood, to some past time when they felt secure and comforted; you get the sense that she is trying to inspire viewers to relive these sweet times again in the future. I think she is successful in using her skills and imagination to create this mysterious world in her works, charming and feeding her audiences delightful memories and fairytale-like mirages.

Meg Kaizu

Meg Kaizu

Meg studied Art and Arts Management in Eugene Oregon. In addition to Tokyo Art Beat, her articles have appeared in magazines such as Being A Broad, Metropolis, PingMag and Whitehot Magazine. You can contact her at: mkaizu [at] gmail [dot] com