In Mikiko Hara’s latest series Kyrie — the title of which is inspired by its mystic sound rather than its origin in Christianity — the artist’s intuitive eye taps into hidden narratives behind seemingly mundane moments in the suburbs of Tokyo.
Hara routinely carries her classic film-camera to approach her subjects in a close range. As in her pervious series, Kyrie comprises of unrelated recent events (2015–2017). She explains about her work: “There is no set theme; I'm not trying to communicate a particular message. Instead I gamble on serendipity. I hope that each snapshot will stir some fragment of memory within every viewer, arousing complex feelings and emotions that can't be easily put into words.”
While making photographs by impulse rather than intention, Hara achieves uniquely instantaneous characterizations of her surroundings. In other words, her subjects deserve scrutiny. In this new series, the statue of a single person remains as Hara’s strength; a young girl rolling a small ball on a concrete floor, a train conductor looking away as passengers move, and a child lying on his stomach on the ground. They appear utterly lonely in their square spaces as if they were the only people on this planet. Sometimes Hara portrays the confined space such as her own family room and what seems to be the waiting room in the station to simply present ordinary activities — eating, dressing, reading, etc. Non-human subjects are also at play to add various moods, ranging from pale-pink lily and orange flowers to monochromatic abstract landscapes.
Hara’s quietly provocative and sarcastic portrayal of urban inhabitants and landscapes is not a mere social commentary, but instead a deeper philosophical examination of human life as novelist and filmmakers often observe. She attempts the same through hundreds of color photographs made over three decades of her career. She avoids a view-finder that contributes to a premediated vision and applies a slow shutter-speed to her fast-moving subjects, by which the moment seen through her own eyes is already a hair behind by the time the shutter has closed, creating a unique split-second lag that brings the unexpecting effect to her work.