Photography talk by Chino Otsuka – Herbert Art Gallery, Coventry
I have to be honest that until I received the email from Paul Smith regarding this talk I had never heard of Chino Otsuka. However, I know that if I am ever going to take my photography to a real professional level then I need to be feeding myself with every scrap of information which I can get. This not only comes from talks, but also books, lectures and whatever else is available.
As far as self portraits go I had only ever researched the work of Cindy Sherman. The work of Cindy Sherman is legendary and is someone who we all end up researching at one point or another whilst studying photography. Chino’s self portraits are a totally different animal altogether. They are named ‘double self portraits’ (the clue is obviously in the name) and they are from the collection ‘Imagine finding me.’ They take on a whole new approach to this area. These self portraits show Chino as a young girl and also of her now. So she appears in the image twice. Yeah, a bit crazy and surreal with a bit of deja vu thrown in for good measure. A sense of belonging and storytelling play an important part in these images. Not only was this technically brilliant but also very original and like nothing which I had seen before. I found it a bit weird but not as much as her relatives who obviously found this a bit surreal to say the least..
At the end of the talk I managed to ask Chino a few questions about her images. I was very curious as to the amount of work which goes into putting herself into her double self portraits. She explained that this part of the image is completed by somebody else as it requires proper expertise in this particular field. She does not always return to exactly the same place to have her image taken again either, although for two of the images this was possible.
I cant believe that there were only a four people in the room who had questions that they wanted to ask. I think the sooner people learn to engage with whoever is in front of them the better. Its not about them being too shy to ask, I think its more that people cant be bothered or hope somebody else will ask what they want to know.
Anyway, I don’t want to end this blog with a rant but I feel that its something which needs to be addressed. I look forward to the next speaker who I am sure will go on to inspire me as much as Chino has with this amazing talk.