Known Unknown

Iwauko Murakami

“Known Unknown” is what is known in terms of a presence but uncertain what this presence is.

This series gives a new dimension to the portrait. It is generally thought that the most important part of portrait is a face. Needless to say, our attention to people is mainly paid to faces when we try to recognize them. Without faces, what exactly explains who they are? One thing is sure; we ourselves can never look at our own faces directly.

In this work, you cannot look at women in the face and your staring does never sink into their eyes. In each image, an observer and a subject are absolutely disconnected. Because, however hard you try to see a subject, she never shows her face and you cannot find her identification. You are looking at them and they are never looking at you. Instead, you can see every real detail of their living; clothes, materials, interiors and their behavior at home. They might spend their private time at home like they are in these performances (for my photographs) – just I asked them to show me their natural looks and acts as usual as if I were not there. Such their performance proves to be strangely artificial. That’s why it is not reality but photography. A camera in front of a subject is never invisible.

A portrait often shows physical identification, some say that the best portraits can show something deeper about the subject’s personality and mood. My interest is going beyond such ideas. I am interested in how my subjects perform and realize their selves in their real lives, how they could be seen in photography and how photography would operate and influence these whole phenomena. Considering what may be portrait, (as in this series), is related to our unconscious beliefs in what we see in photographs. And this experience can make us more conscious of how photography affects us and who we are today.

About the Artist

Artist Website

In 2012, Iwauko completed Masters degree in photography at Musashino Art University. She specialised in analog colour photography. Now she is very positive to using digital photography, but in general, her considerations are based on the rich experience of the analog process.

Iwauko considers that photography is a subjective media with objective methods. She is trying to approach our anonymous unknown lives and unconscious thoughts by photography according to this belief. A camera lets her on a viewpoint where she can seek the way things are or might be, standing between her and the world. Her insight goes beyond what we can see; she will lead us to think about what is not actually in the photographs as visible elements.

Iwauko’s interest in home has been developed over a period of time and started with her memorable project “HOME works 2011”. She indicates with the word HOME that a house is both an abstract interior and an intimate space, every anonymous daily event, impressive memories and unconscious status show up and wear off around people living there. From the initial project about HOME, Iwauko has worked on other projects on the same theme. Each body of work has a different viewpoint and appearance yet they have paths to access each other because they have all been developed under the major concept of HOME. Her projects fundamentally resonate with each other.

She has already started other projects involving people. Those projects were also motivated by the same interest as the former. It can be said that Iwauko has expanded the concept HOME to look at others and our surroundings. She has a strong will that is determined to evaluate individual nameless lives. Her images propose that we may see our lives in different ways, enabling us to consider our life time. When we review history in ordinary way, we often ignore the details, they lie anonymous and unmentioned. Iwauko indicates that these details are essential parts of our public history and induces us to consider their value. She is interested in throwing light on our unconscious memories