Izima Kaoru was born in Kyoto in 1954 and is best recognized for his series “Landscapes with a Corpse.” These photos combine horror with beauty in portraying models and actresses acting out their ideal deaths.
Izima Kaora is a Japanese artist and fashion photographer who began the photoseries “Landscapes with a Corpse” in 1995. When he first began the series he invited a number of Japanese actresses to imagine their perfect death, and to pick a designer outfit to die in, so to speak. The manner of the deaths varies from gruesome murders to natural deaths, and demonstrates the individuality involved in people’s fantasies of death. The photographs show cinematic and fashion influences in both the composition of the shots and the use of colours. In many of the shots Kaora uses highly saturated and bright colours creating a juxtaposition between the crime-scene subject matter and the aesthetics of the photographs.
The title of each death simply lists the participants name and the outfit they are wearing, an example being ‘Hasegawa Kyoko wears Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche’ There is no reference to the manner of death, and whilst some are obvious, such as gunshot wounds and bodies impaled with arrows others are more ambiguous and we are left wondering what the cause of death is.
Each murder from the series typically involves similar types of shots, from a long establishing shot to close-up images of each of the victim’s faces. The photographs literally take us as viewers closer to the scene of the death. Kaora’s images attempt to combine the beautiful with death, and as such he attempts to examine an area of life we normally endeavour to ignore: our own mortality. In an interview, he stated that we should see in his photos the dignity of death.
“I think we should not avoid death because we are scared of it but take it as something more peaceful and beautiful, by being conscious of it as a matter close to everyone. What I want to say here is that the ‘tragic corpse’ can be something disgusting or to feel sorry for but the spirit of the body is most likely already free from the physical pain and is free and in peace. I [feel] that I visualize such a spiritual concept. I am imagining the point of view of the dead’s spirit.”
For over a decade, he photographed numerous actresses and models in their death fantasies, and whilst he has faced criticism for his treating the death of these beautiful women in a romantic and stylized fashion, his images are certainly unique in their portrayal of death.
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