Miyuki Okuyama

Miyuki Okuyama (Yamagata, 1973)

Miyuki Okuyama is a Japanese photographer and a photobook artist living and working in the Netherlands. Based on her unique perspective as an expatriate Japanese, her photographic works often deal with her identity and roots, interacting with the others’ in her new environment.

Miyuki won Swiss Photo-Three Award (2019), The Best Portfolio 2nd Prize at Breda Photo Festival (2018), and her book dummy was the winner of Photobook Prize at Cortona On The Move (Cortona, Italy, 2016). Her books are in the collection of MoMA New York Library and other institutes. She has been exhibiting internationally, including Kuala Lumpur International Photo Award (2019), Athens Photo Festival (2018), Cortona On The Move (2017, Italy), OBSCURA Photo Festival (2014, Malaysia), Reminders Photography Stronghold (Tokyo, 2015), Delhi Photo Festival (2013), and KADE (2011, the Netherlands).

”At Dusk" (2018- ongoing)
Dusk, the transitional hour bridging day and night, symbolizes the border between conscious and unconscious, light and dark or life and death. When it is getting dark, things become invisible, and instead, what normally invisible starts to appear. Further, in ancient Japanese culture, dusk was considered to be the time when one might encounter dark creatures. The images of “At Dusk” are to visualize inner reality of a person who has been through change in her life, moving from one culture to another. While it is a personal project, it has a possibility to be collective, triggering similar evocative effects in a viewer’s mind.

The images exist somewhere between reality and fantasy, and those often somber images are inspired by the fragmented memories of my childhood, long discarded fears and vaguely recalled nightmares. They trigger feelings such as nostalgia, anxiety or something indefinable in one’s mind. Living in this highly modernized and organized society, I feel an urge to be in touch with my childhood I spent in a rural village in north Japan, where old tales with dark undertones were still alive. The images are indirectly connected to the stories I inherited orally from my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, curiously it was always from female family members, of ghosts and mysterious creatures. And such stories are interwoven delicately with both beauty and horror. As Haruki Murakami, a Japanese novelist, often writes about the entrances to the darker parallel universe, disguised as a dried well, a Ferris wheel or a forgotten hotel room, those images provide a viewer a peephole to obscure side of one’s mind.

When those slightly enigmatic photos, mostly shot right after sunset, reflect somehow the familiar sights of my home and childhood. The obscurity is the key that enables to capture the images beyond time and distance, for it creates the images without realistic details. They suggest the inner urgency to visualize intimate views towards the past. It might be possible for a person to be able to recapture something essential she might have left behind long ago as the images. The images of the peripheral corners of a city, often of with ordinary domestic animals, were shot unconsciously during my nightly walks around my neighborhood. The images provide some kind of psychological comfort as they show something fundamental in poetic form beyond time and space.

Favorite photographers: Mary Ellen Mark, Ute Mahler & Werner Mahler, Hiroh Kikai

奥山美由紀 (1973年、山形)


2019年スイス・フォト・スリー受賞、2018年ブレダ・フォトフェスティバル・ベストポートフォリオ2位受賞、2016年Cortona on the Moveダミーブックアワード受賞(イタリア)。自作のダミーブックはニューヨーク近代美術館ライブラリ所蔵のほか、アルル国際写真祭、DOCfield、Fiebreなどのダミーブック賞にノミネート。クアラルンプール国際写真アワード(2019年)、アテネ・フォトフェスティバル・サテライト展示(2018年)、Cortona on the Move(2017年)、Obscuraフォトフェスティバル(マレーシア、2014年)、Reminders Photography Stronghold(東京、2015年)、デリー・フォトフェスティバル(2013年)、KADE(オランダ、2011年)など、国際的に展示を行っている。

「At Dusk」(2018〜)
Dusk、つまり黄昏とは昼と夜のあいまにあり、意識と無意識、光と闇、生と死の境界を象徴する時間だ。暗くなるにつれてものは見えなくなるが、通常は目に見えないものが出現し始める。日本においては古くから黄昏は逢魔時とも呼ばれ、怪しい存在に出会う時間とされてきた。「At Dusk」のイメージは、異なる文化圏へと移り住み、人生の変化を体験した者の内なるリアリティを視覚化している。これは個人的なプロジェクトでありながら、それを観る者たちの心にも同様の記憶を呼び起こすような効果をもたらすかもしれない。

「At Dusk」の薄暗いイメージは、子ども時代の記憶の断片、長らく忘れられていた恐れ、ぼんやりと思い出される悪夢などに想起されており、現実と幻想の合間に存在している。これらは郷愁、不安、なにか言い知れぬ感情を観るものの心に呼び起こす。高度に近代化・組織化されたこの社会に住みながら、どこか暗さを帯びた古いものがたりがまだ生きていた東北の村で過ごした私自身の子ども時代とのつながりを強く求めている。語り手がすべて女性だったのは興味深いところだが、これらのイメージは私の母、祖母、曾祖母から聞かされた幽霊や不思議な存在の昔話に間接的につながっている。美と恐れの合間を繊細に織り交ぜてそれらの物語は紡がれている。小説家の村上春樹が枯れた井戸、観覧車、忘れ去られたホテルの部屋などに隠されたパラレルワールドへの入り口をよく描写するように、これらのイメージは観るものの心の中の暗い領域へののぞき穴となる。