Hester

Kumi Oguro

Website

Biography

Lives and work in Antwerp, Belgium

I am drawn to this particular fictional female, Hester, because of her extreme nature; she is an extrovert, aggressive and chaotic, but also sensitive, loving and charming.

In my photographic work, I create a world just next to our daily reality. Although I would not call my images ‘dream-like’, there is an intangible quality about them, which is similar to the difficulty of describing our waking dreams. There is no story contained within my photographs that has any kind of logical flow.
My first photobook, NOISE, was published in 2008 and takes its name from the title of one of my photographs featured in the publication. One day, before I started giving titles to my photographs, someone who was viewing a particular image of mine commented, "This photograph has noise.” Thinking about this afterwards, I realised that this sound emanating from my work is like that of a badly tuned radio, there is something subtly disturbing about it. Just as you think you might catch something recognisable, it shifts into noise again, making you more curious to capture what is behind it.
After the publication of my book, which coincided with several exhibitions that used the same title, at a certain point, I moved on from the concept of “noise" and pushed it out of my mind. However, later on when I began working on new projects, I found myself returning to this idea of a sonic presence in my photographs and I realised that it is still there at the core of my work. It keeps buzzing in my ear, this subtle disturbance, a noise that you cannot easily tune into, with no linear narrative.
Throughout my career to date, I have consistently photographed female models in staged settings. Over the years, the ways that I have depicted women has gradually changed. From the child-like women of my early work, who were presented as both sensual and at the same time innocent beings, to my current subjects, which have evolved into something closer to what I would describe as ‘creatures’. Often only fragments of body are seen: arms, legs, shoulders, hair... A beautiful tuft of soft hair might look as if it has a will of its own. To me, it is only women who have this extreme duality: they are balancing on a thin line between the alluring and the eerie, the fragile and the destructive, the playful and the tragic.
My recent focus has been on creating a new book, a place to bundle together the works I have created throughout the last decade. This publication will be called HESTER, which is the title of one of the photographs featured and originally taken from a character in the novel, A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving. I am drawn to this particular fictional female, Hester, because of her extreme nature; she is an extrovert, aggressive and chaotic, but also sensitive, loving and charming. I suppose it is true to say that to a certain extent, I could call all the women in my photographs ‘Hester’, with a lot of affection.