Hidden Maidenfs Desire of gHimeh
by Kotaro Iizawa
@About 10 years ago, when I met Kenichi Murata@for the first time, he showed me a lot of his photography which he had ever taken. At that time, his photographic style and print style had already been completed. After that, of course, his works have been technically advanced and the variation of his works has been broadened. But the basis of his style is still the same.
His female models cast off their clothes with languid countenance, and reveal their beautiful naked bodies. Although such photography of women is apt to be vividly lascivious, his works, with monochrome print but colored with delicate and pale touches, succeed to give effect of something illusional. Because the settings and properties which were effectively put in the photography made those models be in a tale.
What Murata tries to express with the female models is the image of gHimeh in his mind. gHimeh is one of aincient Japanese terms which means awe and wistfulness for women. The word gHimeh was usually used for noble princesses, or ladies from the imperial family or the aristcracy, and it became to be used in the meaning of a honoristic title for women, or something little or something adorable. But there are some cases where the word gHimeh is used for street prostitutes or certified prostitutes who sell lust, especially in Kansai area which is Muratafs native town. The word gHimeh includes some erotic feeling in itself.
There is a tale called gMushi Mezuru Himegimih(gThe Princess Who Loves Insectsh). This tale is contained in gThe Tsutsumi Chunagon Monogatarih, a collection of short stories in the mid-11th-Century. There was a gHimeh (princess) who was from the family of the chief councilor of state, and somehow@loved insects or worms. She especially loved caterpillars which would turn into butterflies and fondle them on her hands. She was known as a strange in her neighborhood. She was a beauty but did not care of arranging her hair and eyebrows and applying make up. There was a young noble-man who got interested in her tried to attract her by presenting her poems. But she just ran laughing. But the story suddenly ended and would make the readers wonder how the story would go.
I suppose that this story of gMushi Mezuru Himegimih(gThe Princess Who Loves Insectsh) is the very model of Muratafs obsession. It seems as if he continues writing the sequel to the unfinished story. And the gHimeh who are in Muratafs photographic works do not seem to be obedient to their parents and teachers and live like dolls. Each of all has unique taste and is trying to intensively express anything. Murata tries to give some form to those hidden desires or feelings which are suppressed by various pressures in their daily life. In his photographs, those gHimeh can dramatically transform just as if caterpillars transform to butterflies.
In such meaning, Muratafs photographs are not arbitrarily made. He took long time to make conversations with his models before his photographic shooting. And from those conversations, he will understand what the models long for and how they want to change, what are their favors just as caterpillars in the story of gThe Princess Who Loves Insectsh. He comprehends them well before he shoots. His works are made and refined with corporation with his models.
What matters most is where his works are made. Most of his photographic shootings are held in his studios which were remodeled from the loft of his house, and from the warehouse, and the surroundings. The other day, I got a chance to visit there. And it was very interesting. The old house which had been built in Japanese building-style had some bizarre atmosphere in itself. I suppose that his eccentric imagination must have been grown up gradually living in this old house and that the gHimeh who were received to this house, would naturally transform to appropriate figures to the surroundings.
I think itfs a great pleasure that his works be shown to foreign people in such forms. And I am looking forward to seeing how the hidden maidenfs desires of gHimeh, which were bloomed secretly in the east-end islands, will be accepted by the foreign people and create a sensation.