Woman of the Photographs explores the relation between photographs and identity.
In the good old days, pictures were taken for the sake of recording memories. These days, it is more to show the success of the Self. Instagram pictures on turquoise beaches, or pastel painted cafe interiors are now a dime a dozen. Selfie generation has given a platform to even the most camera-shy people. Because what can’t an image filter app do to make us look prettier, thinner, more glamorous, more buff, and so forth?
Director Takeshi Kushida makes use of claustrophobic quarters and juxtaposes them with wide open spaces. His slightly offbeat microcosm exists mostly within a tiny photo imaging shop, and only ventures out as far as the after-closing hours courtyard of a shopping complex. Occasionally the characters venture off to vast but non identified photo shoot locations, but these are seen almost as an extension of a Selfie Nation fantasy world.
In this mini universe, a quiet photographer shoots mostly insect photography when he’s not dealing with customers’ sometimes outrageous retouching requests. He meets an injured ballerina Instagram influencer. Her life consists of posting daily selfies and waiting for “Likes”. But with a gaping wound on her chest, she asks her new friend to touch up what she feels is unacceptable viewing material for her sponsors and her fans.
As the ballerina’s wound grows larger and more unsightly, the tone of the story shifts. It delves into the mythos of self worth. The truth is in the lie. A good lie can make people happy. It seems in contemporary society, we can only love ourselves through others’ eyes. Therefore, we demand touch-ups to make our target audience admire or desire us. Scattered throughout are metaphors relating to the photographer’s favorite insect; the praying mantis. It symbolizes both the beauty and the ugliness of humanity.
Special mention must be made about the experimental Paul Sharits-like climax. Rhythmic flashes and superimposed film frames give the ballerina wings on which to soar. This in turn, opens up a whole new world for the photographer.
Woman of the Photographs – available On Demand until September 2nd, 2020