Magnum Photos Symposium Tokyo: Jacob Aue Sbol and Ishiuchi Miyako discussing the subject of intimacy in photography.
Sobol, who comes from Denmark and who is a self-taught
photographer still in his 30s, seems to rely on instincts; his black and white images -- grainy, stark, often blurry -- appear raw and spontaneous.
Ishiuchi, who is Japanese and who has worked as a photographer for several decades, gives an impression of someone much more reserved and restrained.
Yet, for both photography is primarily a way of dealing with emotions -- often painful and difficult to comprehend.
What renders their work powerful is great intensity and yes -- intimacy. More often than not, their images touch upon something mysterious, buried deep within our hearts and difficult to define or express with words.
Sobol: as darkness descends the boats come in and the hunters walk silently through the village dragging their kill; footsteps in the snow outside the window; the smell of boiling seal meat; the church bells chime; the first hymn, three older women sing with strong, vibrant voices; icebergs slowly emerging, they lean against each other like long fingers reaching towards the pack ice; the ups and downs of love delineate the story; the strait that runs dry at low tide.
Ishiuchi, who early in her career started photographing women with scars, says that the surface of her images was covered by intense pain and complex feelings. She later photographed objects -- clothes, underwear, personal items -- left behind by her mother after she passed away. It was her way of coming to terms with loss and dealing with a lot of painful memories. And then Hiroshima, ひろしま: portraits of objects that survived even though their owners did not.
"Scars have the great significance of being a testimony to life. They are not ugly. Whatever the scar, I cannot help but think it is beautiful. This is a complex beauty, however... "
"Living with physical body is hard. How can we best accommodate values, discontents that are determined by the body? All things with form must eventually pass away."