Underwater self-portraits from Noriko Yabu

Japanese photographer Noriko Yabu has created a striking series of self-portraits submerged in a bath …

Japanese photographer Noriko Yabu has created a striking series of self-portraits submerged in a bath …

Setting up the camera outside of the tub, an automatic timer was used to repeatedly take images as Yabu plunged beneath the surface. She suggests that “nobody knows the real me”, not even herself, and uses the series to experiment with creating continuously changing self-portraits.

The series, Suisou (Another Myself) captures the artist’s nude form, with bubbles and ripples distorting limbs, fragmenting expressions and tangling hair that swirls around her.

Almost painterly in parts, the images have been likened to Eugene Delacroix’s visions of Ophelia floating in the river. There is something about the work that enacts a certain flirtation with mortality, possessing similar qualities to the video work of Bill Viola, with her surreal and sometimes troubling stillness under the swelling surface of the water. Interestingly the title Suisou, or 水 葬, also translates loosely as water burial or water funeral.

Yabu says she has been influenced by Japanese avant-garde film-maker and photographer Terayama Shūji, whose work tends to fall somewhere between fact and imagination; and the philosophical aspect of photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto’s work, that often explores issues around time and the transience of life.


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