Yuki Onodera

Gravity-defying photography

15 10 2011 … 22 01 2012


The photographic universe of the Japanese artist Yuki Onodera (b. 1962) shows a pronounced taste for all that floats, flies and defies gravity. In order to shoot these images, the artist uses all types of techniques including collages and superimpositions. Each shot is the result of tiny, voluntary shifts inserted into the information circuit. Yuki Onodera thus manages to reach another level of reality, the issue of perception constituting the very essence of her approach.
The exhibition « La photographie en apesanteur » (Gravity-defying photography) at the musée Nicéphore Niépce is the first ever retrospective of Yuki Onodera’s work in France. It presents a selection of almost seventy photographs from fifteen series of pieces by the artist between 1991 and the present day. An original piece specially created for this exhibition will pay tribute to Nicéphore Niépce.

The most considerable event that occurs in this photography is its immobility. From one series to the next, we gradually come to realise that this visual universe does not move, it floats.
Fascinated as we are by our own productions we live with the idea of a permanent and uninterrupted dynamism of the system of objects. Everything is arranged and ordered, classified and posed in a vision of history as a continuous movement. This shift from a world thought to be active and logical to a static and irrational world, implies a refusal of the indicial vision of photography in favour of poetic fiction.
To tell the truth, by affirming that objects themselves have no dynamic, that humans are also fictional, constructed realities, Yuki Onodera brings us back to a pre-logical thought and supposes the abandonment of all stories, of history itself.

It would be paradoxical if the objects were to have a history in a world with no history. In this space, where time and temporality have been banished, there can be no room for geometry. Only a few sophisticated shapes remain in this illusionist space, substances overcharged with energy, stripped of time-span and apparently without any goal… This world does not know the value of use and the value of exchange. The reason for objects is no longer linked to their function but to the upheaval of their use. They expose themselves, real. However, they proclaim their absence from the known world and take on a poetic physique, vectors of irradiated light and unfathomable signs.

We have gone beyond the photographic. Here, the interior of these beings-things-images, to the sharpest degree of detail, obeys a demand for intelligibility that we are not in a position to understand. The order of the world, both continuous and discontinuous is a mystery that is constantly being rejected. Bodies go crazy, limbs multiply. Man loses sight of himself as a constellation. Objects float above the ground. Mystical beings and objects that mutate outside themselves. From now on, we will speak of phenomena. While objects levitate, constrained faces in ecstatic trances are not freed from their weight. Photography plays with the laws of gravity. By inverting the Casimir effect, Yuki Onodera thinks she can command forces that are so repulsive that they can curve light…
In short, what forces are stronger than gravity and wring reality’s neck? Photography is openly false in terms of perception, in the transformation of clues that shows it to be more adapted to survival than an exact, absurd analysis of a situation.
Fiction is a chimera and is conceived as a particular incitement, an urge to take in a multiplicity of improbable worlds. The apparent absurdity of the images activates stimuli that go down neuronal paths that seem to have lost their way in the optical system.
The repeated manipulations fool the spectator’s visual system, leading it to stray from reality. The optical constructions no longer integrate themselves in the vast store of images, in the reference system incorporated in our world experience, they become creators. By moving away from the real, Yuki Onodera’s photographs redefine the limits of the known. The being-image and the object-image become one and are shot through by uninterrupted flows of energy and signs. The mystery, the very basis of the work, doesn’t ask to be solved.
The feeling of incongruity that inhabits Yuki Onodera’s work, the value she attaches to the photography’s powers of creation call us to question what we see and how it is made. The very titles of the series: C.V.N.I, P.N.I, Watch your joint, Transvest, Liquid, tv and insect; shows us a willingness to deliberately blur the issue, an obvious taste for the labyrinthine. The paradox of the energy-filled darkness of an image that excludes brightness to preserve photographic originality, a gift made to the onlooker who knows how to look, to contemplate. At this point, the work, that borders on grandiloquent, retains the humility necessary, an essential condition to exist in mankind’s real time and space.