Generally, black and white photographs, actual/contemporary (and not contemporary/patrimonial), leave me rather skeptical, since I often wonder what the artist aims at showing in it (‘it’, The black and white). But with Ogura, there is this deep black, almost asphaltic, dirty as oil, and this resisting white. How does she proceed? I say to myself that that is not postproduction, otherwise how come she’d keep the white in so much black? One even distinguishes two types of black in here; the black of the build, and the black of the night in the urban lighting, what is called light pollution, a strange expression indeed, as if lighting could dirty. Yet, I find something a bit threatening in this black very black, like an archaic fear. Then, the inscriptions Starbuck Coffee and the number plate bring us back to the terrestrial, the urban, the trivial, without removing the feeling against vis-à-vis this black. The image, stronger than semantics? (i.e., symbols, letters, numbers, aren’t destabilizing it).
This one also breathes quite well the dark, with this dirty podo-tactile strip which throws in the infinite, the car on the right, which looks deformed in the chromatism — aquatic monster; and I think of the novelist Eric Ambler, who compares cars driving at night as sharks. A atmosphere of crime novel, therefore. And, again two sorts of black; the mixed (lighting) and the pure. Look a bit on the left of the railings; it’s as if there were nothing else, the end of the image, or the end of the world. I see this nocturnal urban fragment as puzzle pieces, which Ogura sets up maybe unintentionally: close-ups, vistas, etc. And, as I mentioned earlier (#1), few humans in Ogura, but here:
I’m inclined to name this a ‘complex portrait’. One doesn’t understand the scales, or which superimposes what. It’s very graphical. We don’t know if this young woman is made of flesh or paper. And this contributes to what I call the puzzle with Ogura; except here it is not juxtaposed, and this might evoke some photos by Eikoh Osoe, the great ancestor and pioneer of Japanese contemporary photograph.
Here again, this black, and this white (with a bit of grey), and these inscriptions as a rebus, with this anthropomorphic clue. There is a whole presence of the black, in Ogura, and I was recently writing to her that, this black makes me think about the one we find in Takehiko Nakafuji‘s serie, “Winterlicht”, for instance. And Hikari answered that she actually met Nakafuji, of whom she has all the books, and that he’s been priorily influenced by Brassaï and Elsken. Good pick. And I’m answering that, to me, her black is deeper, more troubling than Nakafuji’s. And this question about the black, in the Black and White photography, appears to be something that the medium can still investigate. Counterexample: We know some photographers who photograph in black/white just as to simulate a bit more the photographic stance, its fetishist gesture, so as to accentuate the ancestral trade; purer, as we might say. But, in these cases, the strings discover promptly, the snapshot slips from the eye and reveals both its vacuity and vain seductive attempt.
I am not done with this black.