Private Scenes

Masahisa Fukase at Foam

BY: Jes Zurell

Privacy is a provocative topic right now; there are countless conversations to be had. There are opinions on private parts and how to handle them (#freethenipple, please. Also, consent is everything). There are arguments around privacy policies and opting in, opting out, deciding how much of your life you want to share with people – or with brands like us. (Thank you, and we love you, by the way).

Something that is private is something that is precious to someone, regardless of the motive, and if someone lets you touch his, her or their privates, consider yourself blessed.

That brings us to Masahisa Fukase – Private Scenes, opening this fall at Foam.

Fukase was a renowned photographer who created series after series of intimate photo essays over his decades-long career.

“Over the years his wife Yoko, his dying father, his artist friends and beloved cat Sasuke featured in often playful, and at times melancholic visual narratives,” Foam stated in its announcement of the event. “The artist himself regularly appeared in front of the lens. Together, the works form a unique visual biography of one of the most radical and experimental photographers of his generation.”

After his death in 2012, the archives were gradually disclosed, revealing a wealth of material that had never been shown before. Foam presents a large-scale retrospective with original prints from the Masahisa Fukase Archives in Tokyo.

There are portraits of a family that look sterile at first glance, until you realize that one of the young women is topless.

There’s a gaggle of uniformed school girls smiling at the ocean with the wind in their hair.

There’s a man who looks like he’s about to lecture us on Gonzo journalism and warn us about bat country somewhere outside of Barstow – you get the idea.

Throughout the exhibition, you get the sense that Fukase is flashing us with the photographer’s version of full-frontal nudity – honesty so refreshing, yet so playful that it catches us off-guard.

For the record, we’re really into these private parts.

 

Masahisa Fukase
Untitled 1991, from the series “Bukubuku.” Masahisa Fukase Archives.

 

Masahisa Fukase
Ants 1962, from the series “Color Approach. Masahisa Fukase Archives.

 

Masahisa Fukase
Untitled 1962, from the series “Family.” Masahisa Fukase Archives.

 

Masahisa Fukase
Untitled 1962, from the series “Family.” Masahisa Fukase Archives.

 

Masahisa Fukase
Kanazawa 1997, from the series “Ravens.” Masahisa Fukase Archives.

 

Masahisa Fukase
Untitled 1965. Masahisa Fukase Archives.

 

Masahisa Fukase
Sasuke 1983, from the series “A Game.” Masahisa Fukase Archives.

 

Masahisa Fukase – Private Scenes opens on September 7 and runs through December 12, 2018 at Foam. This show was created in collaboration with Tomo Kosuga, director of the Masahisa Fukase Archives. The works were generously lent by the Masahisa Fukase Archives, represented by Michael Hoppen Gallery. Foam thanks Simon Baker, director of the Maison Européenne de la Photographie, and Les Rencontres d’Arles for their advice and involvement.