Emi Anrakuji creates riveting labyrinth-like photographs combining images of her body and a variety of mundane objects. “CHASM – Sakeme,” is a series of images of sensual, faceless bodies of herself reenacting prosaic routines such as washing hair, undressing, and self-examining of her body. They all emerge from a narrow opening in the darkness with the impact and lyricism of a daydream. The small and large prints demonstrate the artist’s struggle with the vicissitudes of everyday life through a Zen-like realization of the futility of repeated acts.
Chasm, a Greek-rooted word meaning “gap”, “opening”, or “break”, is a metaphor for the outlet from which Anrakuji can release her emotions. Anrakuji says, “I am not eloquent about my work. All I can say is ‘chasm’ is a stronger expression than ‘scream’; If you are in deep trouble, mentally and physically, you cannot even scream.” She expresses this constant feeling of no-exit through images of self-mutilatization, and yet she never lets this expression slide into overt narcissism. Instead, she strives to transform her personal trauma into the beauty of the impure and the outcast.
Anrakuji never lets her self-image slide into exhibitionist hedonism or self-inflicting narcissism. Instead, she commands a sophisticated body language with her willowy figure and long hair, achieving the haunting beauty of the impure and the outcast. In addition, her journey, from aspiring young artist diagnosed with a cerebral tumor, to a gradually reinstated late-bloomer, injects stubborn cynicism into her work. Like Sisyphus, she acknowledges the beauty and struggle of repetitive acts.
Emi Anrakuji, born 1963, originally studied oil painting at Musashino University of Art and Music in Tokyo. In the early 1980s, she was diagnosed with a cerebral tumor. During her recovery from the decade-long hiatus, she taught herself photography. Since 2001, her work has received a number of important photography awards and been exhibited extensively across Japan, UK, US, and Korea. The reviews of her work appeared in C-International Photo Magazine, X-funs, and many other publications. Nazraeli Press has published her several monographs, including “ANRAKUJI,” “e-hagaki” and “IPY” This is her second solo exhibition in New York, following “E.A.S.E.” at MIYAKO YOSHINAGA art prospects (formerly M.Y. Art Prospects) in 2006. Anrakuji lives in Tokyo, Japan.