Monday, July 07, 2008

Foreign Exchange

Last night I watched a drama about young foreign women working in kyabakura or hostess bars in Tokyo. The characters could have been any one of half a dozen girls I knew in my late teens who went to Japan for a little excitement and ended up employed as hostesses. They pretended to me that they only worked for drinks and a little extra money from clients who "just wanted to practice their English". If they had sex with these clients, the money and expensive gifts they received were, somehow, not a part of the transaction. The more generous clients were referred to as boyfriends and never, in the hooker vernacular, as 'johns'.
As Joan Didion once wrote, "We tell ourselves stories in order to live". I still wonder why they couldn't be frank about what it was they really did (and even, in one case, invited me to do with them).
I work so damn hard to be open in my life and work, even at the risk of embarrassing myself. I try to be completely fearless even if I fall a long way short of that. It's difficult but defining. Art is more powerful – and life more genuine – when it's raw and honest. A viewer can feel the difference. One of the reasons why I can't stand so much contemporary art photography is that it's often as fastidiously 'produced' as a Hollywood movie, right down to the special effects. It's insidiously 'untrue' and it leaves me feeling empty.

3 comments:

ddrips said...

Yes, what attracted me to you is you say it the way you see it and live it ....

Natalie said...

This photograph is so beautiful. I love it because it reads as honest, powerful and erotic - and(thankfully) complete devoid of the male gaze, which usually produces some banal, narrowly- defined performance of'sexiness'.

Fitzroyalty said...

Was it Stratosphere Girl on SBS? I love that film :-) Saw it at the German film fest a couple of years ago. There must have been at least 10 other people in the cinema...