Thursday, February 21, 2013


Travis Klose, 2004

The first time I saw some of Nobuyoshi Araki's work, I fell completely in love. Granted I was in my early teens and it shocked the hell out of me, but aside from being saucy, explicit, erotic, and taboo-breaking, his photography is beautiful and is worth viewing again and again. Arakimentari documents the great photographer's life and work. It comes highly recommended to any of his fans or to those seeking an introduction to Japanese bondage photography.

Most of the documentary takes place while Araki is working, so we are able to see his methods, sit in on some of his shoots, and meet his models. He also goes through several old and unpublished books of work with a look of absolutely child-like glee on his face. He discusses his early career, his passionate relationship with his wife, journalist Yoko Araki (who died in 1990), and some of the Japanese taboos he has broken over the years. The many moments with Araki are by far the best parts of the documentary and I honestly wish they went on longer.

There are also a few interviews with celebrities who love his work, were inspired by him, or who have worked with him. Most of them poignantly cover different areas: Bjork hired him to photograph her, Takeshi Kitano worked with him in Japan, and Richard Kern is a fellow boundary-pushing photographer (from the U.S., if you're unfamiliar). Bjork is kind of lackluster, doesn't go very in depth, and mostly talks about how amazing he is. Takeshi Kitano is more insightful, though I adore him so much I could listen to him talk about the grass growing. Richard Kern also gives a great interview and provides insight on how influential Araki is in the photography industry, particularly in the world of erotica and sexually subversive art.

As I said, this comes highly recommended. In addition to providing a loose introduction to erotic photography, it is a great place to discover Araki's work. He's an artist anyone with an interest in porn, erotica, or bondage should know about, though he has done a lot more than just erotic photography. Aside from the fact that his work is amazing, he's one of the most prolific photographers in the world. With 350+ books of art and more always ready to come out, his work ranges from erotica, pornography, fashion, portraiture, flowers, etc. His bondage photography is masterful, beautiful, and comes particularly recommended. Tartan has a nice single disc DVD that is at least worthy of a rental.

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