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It is the first time the Spanish photographer will show the result of her period spent with yakuzas within Japan, in France
The Provençal village of Mougins in the south of France is known as the place where Pablo Picasso spent the final 12 years of his living. There’s even a bronze sculpture of the artist in the square. Perched on a hill, the particular village is also near Grasse, the heart of the perfume market, where the sweet scent of flowers wafts through the air flow. Now the picturesque village has something new to offer the visitors; a photography center, inaugurated in July.
Situated up the winding, cobbled street alongside a clock tower, the Centre de Photographie de Mougins is housed inside a historic stone building that was once a presbytery. It was earlier home to the photography art gallery of André Villiers, who had snapped the pictures of Picasso and his artist contemporaries Fernand Léger, Alexander Calder, Man Ray plus Jean Cocteau. However , the particular museum closed in 2018 due to a fall in visitor numbers and lack of a curatorial programme. The mayor of Mougins pondered what to do with the edifice in order to attract a lot more cultural tourists.
“The mayor went to see François Cheval [a curator and co-founder of Lianzhou Museum of Photography in China ] and asked him to devise a strategy in order to define a photography centre here, ” Yasmine Chemali, who manages the picture taking centre, says.
The village council invested €1. 8m renovating the particular venue and earmarked €450, 000 for annual working costs. Cheval was appointed artistic director and independent curator while Chemali had been hired last year to run the space. She has joined the Centre de Photographie de Mougins from Sursock Museum within Beirut where she has been responsible for the modern and modern art collections.
“The idea is to assistance artistic creation through displays, publications and artists’ residencies, ” Chemali says about the photography centre, which programs to launch an artists’ residency programme next year.
Above a bookshop on the ground floor are two exhibition levels that are colored white and have black wood beams. In the hope of building an ambitious and worldwide exhibitions’ programme, the inaugural show – running until 03 October 2021 – is dedicated to the Spanish photographer Isabel Muñoz . Her 1st solo exhibition in a France institution in over two decades, it brings together 36 large-format images, mostly in monochrome, and four video functions. Muñoz, 70, produced the task following seven trips to Japan between 2017 and 2020.
During this time Muñoz was able enter the shut, underground world of yakuzas – organised crime organizations whose members swear their own allegiance by having elaborate tattoo designs inked by the use of a bamboo bedding needle on their backs. The punishment for betrayal is a finger cut off on the left hand. Muñoz took characteristically framed portraits of the yakuzas naked as well as close-ups of the faces. There are more pictures of them wearing a suit and sunglasses, thus displaying their particular exterior image as gangsters.
“Isabel Muñoz’s focus on Japan has never been shown within France. She’s an performer who exhausts her subject and was interested in taking photos of the yakuzas who are individuals on the margin of modern society. ”
“Isabel Muñoz’s work on Japan has never been shown within France, ” Chemali says. “She’s an artist which exhausts her subject plus was interested in photographing the yakuzas who are people around the margin of society. ”
Muñoz also photographed Japanese women training shibari, or bondage, towards a black curtain in a studio. For submissive women, the constriction of their body being tied in rules, with their own complicity, by a master, brings a cerebral and physical form of stimulation, a kind of pleasure and pain. An anguished woman stares frontally at the camera, the tear rolling down her cheek, while another picture shows a body wrapped in a blue fabric just like a bundle – the body by itself discernible only by its contours and suspended simply by red ropes.
Particularly breathtaking and strange are the photographs that Muñoz made of Butoh dancers marine. She also filmed artists on stage, capturing how they get into a dreamlike and irritated state, and photographed kabuki theatre – a transgender art form whereby male stars play female roles, hiding themselves through make-up plus costumes.
This particular initial commitment to exhibit ladies photographers continues in the fall, when the Centre de Photographie de Mougins will present the task of London-based photographer Natasha Caruana and of the Swedish, Zurich-based photographer Jenny Rova. Both shows will run from 29 October 2021 to 30 January 2022.