In her first museum exhibition in the United States, Japanese photographer Michiko Kon shows 30 large black and white prints at the List Visual Arts Center.
Kon’s photographs are strange, elegant, and slightly surreal still lifes. The photographic approach is deadpan documentary. This mischief resides in the arrangements themselves, which commingle dumb and inorganic objects of everyday life – hats, chairs, and undergarments – with equally familiar but organic materials ranging from flowers to vegetables to raw fish. The implication of inevitable decay makes these photographs into stark and powerful contemporary mementos mori.
The print quality of these dark and dramatic tableaux is exquisite and seductive, balancing luscious blacks with a variety of sheens and textures. The prints mimic the fastidious presentation techniques of food and fashion photography, which are carefully calculated to incite desire in the viewer. Yet the allure of these objects is undercut by the materials of their construction; imagine the cool clamminess of a fish-flesh fedora or the slippery flagellation of lingerie whose lace is composed of small herrings and safety pins.
Publication with introduction by Katy Kline and essay by Michiko Kasahara.