Paris Photo 2022: Experimental Self-Portraits: Emi Anrakuji and Melissa Shook

GRAND PALAIS ÉPHÉMÈRE, November 8 - 13, 2022 

MIYAKO YOSHINAGA introduces uniquely intimate and personal projects by two female photographers who explored their identity in self-portraitures: Emi Anrakuji and Melissa Shook.


In the early 2000s, while recovering from her long illness, Emi Anrakuji (Japanese, b. 1963) began taking elusive photos of herself indoors/outdoors interacting with the props which she often made by hand. She printed these self-portraits over vintage picture postcards that were collected by her grandfather, a wine importer in Tokyo, at the turn of the last century. Her grandfather, who died before she was born, traveled frequently to Europe and brought back postcards from Italy, France, the Netherlands, Great Britain, and Belgium, among other places, of ruins, buildings, and other artifacts that become the backdrops for Anrakuji's own self-portraits.


In the early 1970s, Melissa Shook (b. 1939 d. 2020) was a single mother with a fragmented identity as she suffered from the post-traumatic amnesia of her childhood (she lost her mother at age 12). As photography became Shook’s means of keeping her own memory intact for her own daughter, Shook made experimental daily self-portraits in her downtown New York apartment. In front of the camera, she posed clothed or naked, performed, gestured, and made faces over a period of eight months until she felt too self-conscious, and her daughter took over the project by naturally playing with the camera. Shook is a pioneer who explored the female body, motherhood, and the dynamics of interracial families in photography with her honest and inquisitive style.