Men are Beautiful
The photographs in this collection are mainly snapshots taken on the streets of Tokyo. As taking snapshots has become increasingly difficult in recent years there is a tendency for them to appear more portrait-like. There are some photographs that were taken during occasional trips abroad and others that were taken in bars or restaurants. The street is a public place where anybody can go to see and be seen, while bars and restaurants are locations that I am able to enter freely.
Having made up my mind to photograph men, I went out onto the streets; I did not limit my subjects to people I found attractive as members of the opposite sex, but rather made a point of releasing the shutter whenever I saw somebody who shone as a human being. Most of the pictures were taken in Tokyo, so why is it that the majority of them feature people who appear to be foreign? The fact is that many foreigners can be seen in Tokyo today, there are numerous tourists and many others who work here.
It could be postulated that this dearth of Japanese men is due to them losing their appeal. It may be because the attraction of Japanese men lies in their restraint, or alternatively it may just be due to my taste. Of course, attractive Japanese men do exist, but looking at people in Tokyo in 2016, both men and women seem to worry too much about how they appear to others, preventing their individual attraction from expressing itself.
The reason why I decided to photograph men was that I want to use my personal technique, which is to say, street snapshots, to verify ‘beauty’. Historically speaking, beauty, as a subject has been limited to women but others have since worked to enlarge the scope of the genre and I was eager to participate, even if only in a minor role.
More than forty years have passed since the American photographer, Garry Winogrand published the photobook entitled, ‘Women are Beautiful’. This book included a short story in which a woman described various events in her life that she had found intolerable. Why should it be that living in 21st century Japan I am still able to share her emotions? I may be uncool, but I never hesitate to put my emotions into words. It is not something that is ‘too late’ to say. It is said that time goes around and it is possible that we are in the preliminary stages of a new cycle.
It is extremely difficult to say, ‘I am a feminist’. There is an invisible but firm pressure on us not to do so. However, people who believe that men and women are equal are unquestionably feminists and I believe that this represents a good starting point.
Masumi KURA Autumn 2016