There seems to be never-ending talk right now about the cultural value (or the cultural non-value) of the selfie. The conversation usually meanders on and on, touching on narcissism and how everyone on the planet now considers themselves a fine-art-quality photographer — quite frankly it’s exhausting. Which is why it’s oh-so-refreshing to stumble upon an artist who is really trying to elevate the conversation circling around these topics. Which is exactly what Japanese artist Daisuke Takakura is doing with a new series that really faces narcissism head on.
The Monodramatic series is a serious triumph of contemporary photography, and reminds us that a smartphone does not a photographer make. Monodramatic is an unforgettable collection of images that deal with social order, sameness, diversity, and identity. They’re gorgeous, graceful and slightly uncanny — in a good way! And they’ve been stuck in my head since I first laid eyes on them.
Right or wrong, one way I evaluate art on a personal level is to think about it, and keep notes about all of the different ideas it makes me consider. When I find a piece or a series that seems to offer a bounty of material, offering up more angles the more I look, that is when the art begins to really mean something to me. When it unravels the minute I tug at the conceptual thread, I can’t help but think it was ill-composed. Takakura’s work has that bountiful quality I am always searching for.
When we talk about selfies and millennial narcissism, a lot of times we talk about things like self-portraiture, oversharing, connectivity, homogeneity, and even photo editing. These ideas are front-and-center in Takakura’s photos and his images knock on all of these ideas pleading for answers.
In his photographs, a model is depicted in many positions around the frame, basically cloned throughout the image. Some of the models are women and others men, but they’re always just going about their day in a world populated only by themselves. Doesn’t that sound like some pretty great commentary on the idea of narcissism?
However, these photos aren’t bitter or cynical at all. Rather, they’re exploratory, playful, even fun! They deal with very important, contemporary issues in a way that is not intimidating or overly academic at all.
Born in Japan, Takakura has been active as an artist and photographer since at least 2012, though his first showing of Monodramatic was only last August. Since then, people have latched on to this fascinating series and thought-provoking perspective.
Takakura is insanely talented, and his work is a real inspiration. Monodramatic is a great reminder that with a slight perspective shift and a little bit of playfulness, we can really elevate the cultural discourse in a way that is sensitive and innovative. And, oh yes, beautiful.
For more of Daisuke Takakura’s work, visit her website. Images courtesy of the artist.