Reviews - What do customers think about Masako (Compact Books Photo)?
Multidimensional Portrait of a Multifaceted Subject Sep 3, 2007
MASAKO by German photographer Jochen Arndt is not just another collection of random photos of random models in random "glamour" poses. In fact, those seeking conventional pin-up, fetish, or borderline porn photography are advised to look elsewhere. Instead, Arndt's book is a multidimensional portrait of a multifaceted and versatile young woman, one who actively and creatively participates in the photographic process.
Masako, the half-Japanese fashion model who lends her name to the book, is not treated as the object of Arndt's lens, but rather the subject. In other words, Masako does not emerge as a disposable and interchangeable sex object, but as a very real and singular individual; not just another pretty face and beautiful body presented for consumption by a cleaned-up version of the dirty mac crowd.
What comes across in every photo is the rare rapport that exists between artist and model. Arndt's mastery of the photographic arts is so assured as to be unobtrusive, and whether B&W, color, natural or studio lighting, he allows his subject to shine, not his technique. The photos contained in the book were shot over a six-year period, and that long-term artistic relationship has facilitated an apparent atmosphere of intimacy and trust between the one before and the one behind the camera.
Reportedly, Arndt does not indulge in elaborate preparations, or even spend long hours in the studio to take the photos. "We always worked very spontaneously," Masako has written, "And through the way he works, I've learned to be myself." That spontaneity and no-nonsense approach lends the photos an energy and liveliness befitting their protean subject.
Masako is a thorough professional, and is adept at projecting myriad moods, emotions and attitudes through a seemingly bottomless reserve of precise but natural gestures, expressions and poses. She adopts various guises and personae in this collection, but she doesn't always rely on costume, wigs and makeup to accomplish a change in appearance; sometimes something as subtle as a cocked eyebrow brings about the transformation.
There are nudes here, but nothing that would be out of place in a high-class fashion magazine. If these photos succeed as erotic works, (and Eros in the eye--and mind--of the beholder), it depends more on the reader's connection with the subject as a sensuous and uninhibited personality rather than via the degree of exposure or transgression presented. In fact, Masako seems no more naked and exposed, vulnerable or in control, than in those shots that focus only on the fascinating asymmetry and individuality of her face.
The compact size of this sumptuously printed tome by is akin to a Japanese pillow book, and is very fitting considering Arndt's intimate portrayal of the beautiful and intriguing Masako. It is a book in every way worthy of its subject.