press release

The Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki has created a new series of works (encompassing over 400 photographs) to mark the centenary of the foundation of the Association of Visual Artists Vienna Secession. While those Araki works previously shown abroad were all chosen by curators from his existing oeuvre, the artist has personally conceived this exhibition expressly for the Secession and has consented for the first time to attend the inauguration of one of his exhibitions abroad.

The work of Nobuyoshi Araki (who was born in Tokyo in 1940) first drew the attention in Europe and America in connection with "straight photography" and through the interest of artists like artist such as Nan Goldin, Robert Frank and William Klein. The Forum Stadtpark in Graz presented his first one-man-show in the West in 1992. In Japan the work of Nobuyoshi Araki was initially relegated to the pornographic scene and even subjected to censorship.

Since the late 60's Araki has been circulating his photographs with the aid of magazines and photographic books or by presenting his work in the most diverse of venues, e.g. vending machine galleries, laundries, noodle shops and restaurants. There are now more than 100 of these books, all of which were initially published privately in limited editions. Araki developed what was originally a semi-private distribution network for his photographs with the same obsession that he devoted to his photography, which largely deals with the social taboos surrounding sexuality and death.

Nobuyoshi Araki is showing photographic works in the Main Hall of the Vienna Secession under the title "Tokyo Comedy", whose central theme is Tokyo. The photographs do not attempt to give a visual impression of the city of Tokyo, but rather Araki's emotional relationship to the city, which is characterised by the confrontation with life and death, reality and fantasy, sexuality and Eros. His images, which were often selected at random, include shots of cityscapes, flowers, nudes, girls, exotic fruits and animals. In accordance with Araki's working methods, they do not merge in this exhibition to form an integrated picture but to form a "visual diary", that reveals Araki's intimate relationship to the city.

Alongside the photographs, Araki is also presenting videos as a homage to the Vienna Secession, which can be seen in the Graphic Cabinet and in the Main Hall. His latest "Arakinema" Show, "Love Secession", will be presented during the opening of the exhibition. Here two projectors will be used to show a selection of old and new photographs by Nobuyoshi Araki whose projections overlap on a wall and which will be accompanied by a pianist.

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Nobuyoshi Araki
"Tokyo Comedy"