Hikari is a rather unusual book from Hiromix. Rather than the diaristic, food and friends and running around of Girls Blue and Hiromix, Hikari is all landscapes and sky. There might be one person in one picture, but the figure might also be a bundle of something indistinct: I can’t really tell. And instead of the friendly, hand-holdable size of her other books (all of them, Japanese Beauty and Works, both in my library but not yet reviewed at time of writing), Hikari is a big honking coffee table book that’s never going to fit on the shelf with the rest of Hiromix’s oeuvre.
I take it back. There is one image of one person in the book. Hiromix herself appears on the last page in a smiling head and shoulders selfie that is sort of shocking in scale. Young Hiromix appears at nearly life-size and the closeness and suddenness of her arrival can be triggering for more sensitive viewers, I should think. I wonder what the Japanese critics and theorists and commentators of the day made of Hikari.
On second thought, no I don’t. The bits of reviews and critiques I ran through Google Translate for other works were shockingly sexist in a way that I struggle to ignore. I suspect some of it is amplified in translation, and there’s probably some cultural difference at play, and still. Yurie Nagashima spent much of her career fighting against sexism in the art world, and she’s a rough contemporary of Hiromix, so I imagine it’s not my imagination.
Anyway. Two paragraphs about one picture that essentially functions as and amounts to an author portrait is just too much, but the rest of the book sort of reads like an excerpt to me. Given my familiarity with Hiromix’s work of the period, I recognize some of the scenes and suspect that at least a couple of images came from the same nights out or trips or whatever that show up in Hiromix and Girls Blue. Some of the others are triggering in a way and make me want to get into a taxi in a city at night and shoot some film out the rear window. And, yes, I’m a Hiromix fanboy for what I hope is the right reasons—her work, ladies and gentlemen, and I feel similarly about Stephen Shore’s work and Gail Rebhan’s work, and I don’t need to justify or try to excuse myself. And, yes, I think the author doth protest too much.
The only text in the book appears just before and immediately next to smiling Hiromix. It’s in Japanese of course, so I aimed the GTranslate app at it a couple of times and came up with this (massaged a bit):
In order to blow away all this
sadness and loneliness, I
always look up at the sky.
stare at the skyHiroximix. Hikari. Rockin’ On, Tokyo, 1997. unpaginated. Author’s translation adapted from Google’s translation.
stare at the light
there I find a rainbow
Yep. That fits with other Hiromix statements of the day, and I can get behind it as both an artist statement and a good way to think about photography, a good trigger to get out and shoot some.
I have to say that Hikari is maybe my third favorite Hiromix book (of the three that I’ve reviewed), and given the unwieldy size I won’t really recommend it. Fans of landscapes won’t be ever so interested, I think, and fans of Hiromix’s diaristic work should also look elsewhere. Completionists of the world take heart though: used copies have come down in price since I bought my beat up copy and Hikari is on the cheaper side of Hiromix books, perhaps with good-enough reason. I’m glad to have one, myself, but then I’m a Hiromix Superfan and photobook collector, so ymmv.