The 13th “1_WALL” Photography Competition Grand Prize Winner
Masashi Urashiba captured the Grand Prize in the 13th “1_WALL” Photography competition (2015) for his male portrait photography. On that occasion Urashiba said that in photographing not only Japanese but also non-Japanese and both homosexuals and heterosexuals, he came to realize that photos don’t show a person’s nationality or the suffering that might rack them. He received high acclaim from the judges for his potential to take photography in new directions.
The subjects of Urashiba’s works to be shown are mostly homosexuals and people who seek to have the body of the gender different from their own, but the distress they feel isn’t obvious in their photographs. With some of their bodies, it’s difficult to know at one glance whether they are male or female. Through his photographs of people who feel uncomfortable with their bodies, Urashiba finds common ground: the beauty of humanity itself transcending biological differences between male and female. Through his photos he seems to make us see how inconsequential outward appearances and gender divisions are.
We eagerly invite visitors to come and see this solo show of Urashiba’s works a year after he won his Grand Prize.
Message from the Artist
One person says she’s willing to pay 2 million yen to have her breasts removed. Someone else says he wanted to be born a girl, and somebody else says she wants to become a man. If they were each the only humans on earth, they wouldn’t suffer as they do. But everyone lives among many others, and it’s for this reason that they suffer. Whether paying 2 million yen and getting the body you want is the best choice to relieve your suffering, I still don’t know. But personally, I thought their bodies are beautiful enough just the way they are.
Message from One of the Judges
The essence of not understanding something is in not understanding what part you don’t understand. That’s why we feel uncomfortable when we don’t understand something, and sometimes not understanding makes us feel anxiety.
The people photographed here drift as though they had lost their ground to stand on and are falling into a bottomless abyss.
Are they male or female?
Do they love men or women?
Are they Japanese or not?
A variety of possibilities emerge from here, however: possibilities that appear in the photographs precisely because the photographer himself shoots in a state of not understanding. Masashi Uraba’s works take us to that ground zero.
Ryudai Takano (photographer)