|Masashi ASADA: Asada Family – Why don’t you try pressing the shutter button?|
|Written by Takeshi HIRATA|
|Published: April 30 2009|
When was the last time you took a commemorative photo of your family? I suppose most people have taken commemorative pictures of all the family on various occasions before. Commemorative photos of families, whether these families are famous or not, have been taken for more than 160 years throughout the world since photographic technology was invented. Those photos reflect the personality of each family and the image of each “family” is recorded on photographic paper.
The photos entitled “The Asada Family” taken by Masashi Asada won a prize in the 34th Ihei Kimura Photographic Award. Although they are literally commemorative photos of the Asada family, they are not the usual type of family photo. In his photos, each member of the family plays a particular role. The parents and brothers in the Asada family play roles covering a wide range of occupations, including a firefighter, a yakuza (gang member), a thief, a high-school student, a ramen shop manager and a rock band member, in various situations.
I suppose “commemorative” photos have rarely been taken in the field of modern artistic photography, even though this has always been a popular form of photography. In this field, photographers have focused on recording “daily lives” which are treated as informal occasions, rather than “commemoration days” which are thought to be formal occasions. Ihei Kimura himself, whose name is used for the title of the competition in which “Asada Family” won a prize, was also a photographer who focused on taking pictures of “daily lives”.
Regarding photos of “family”, there are a set of pictures, including “Parent and Child” (in 1998) and “Family” (in 2001), taken by Bruce Osborn as part of his life’s work since 1982. These are photos of many and varied families taken in studios, whether the families are famous or not. Previous winners of The Ihei Kimura Photographic Award include Yurie Nagashima’s “Family” (in 1998) which is a picture showing the daily lives of herself and her family, and photos taken by Tomoko Sawada who is known for her performative self-portraits. Although the subjects of pictures taken by Sawada are not family members, it is still fresh in my mind that her photos record various images of “I” – a person who acts out different roles of women with wide-ranging occupations and ages.
However, the commemorative pictures of “the Asada Family” seem similar to but different from photos of the daily lives of families and those taken under assumed concepts. This is because these pictures have elements of situation comedies which are being played by the people in the pictures, and at the same time the pictures depict the images of “the Asada Family” as if in a lively documentary. In other words, “the Asada Family” enjoys being in various situations in these pictures. Therefore, they are real “commemorative pictures”. They are not only commemorative pictures which have elements of extremely personal photos, but also “family” photos having a universal nature. In the pictures entitled “the Asada Family”, Asada succeeded in effectively reflecting daily lives having the nature of a short story by using arrangements that include the frames of the photos, and by employing well-prepared techniques such as special camera positions and delayed-action cameras, which are not often used in common “commemorative photos”.
Today, we rarely have opportunities to get together with all the family, as the members of family often live apart. “My aim is to create, through pictures, such “commemoration days” as we rarely have, however long we wait”, Asada says. Sometimes we may take pictures of our families which have performative elements even though intended as “family” photos. There are many modern photo works and contemporary art photos which are taken under performative settings or concepts. That is also why pictures of people living today, when we rarely have “commemorative days”, only reflect this savage real world if they never include fictional photos. By showing their daily lives in a fashion suggestive of a short story, “the Asada Family” has brought out the festival nature of taking pictures on commemorative days.
"Masashi Asada Photo Exhibition: “Asada Family” – Why don’t you try pressing the shutter button?"
|Last Updated on September 22 2010|