Minami Sakamoto, a member of artist run‘Totem Pole Photo Gallery’ has long been documenting nightlife in Tokyo. She is drawn to the night district, the club scene, the counterculture, the tattoos and the people there. Armed with a camera, she documents the creatures of the night. Her quill, a beaten-up compact point-and-shot camera, picked out of a pile in a secondhand shop.
“I fire a flash into the darkness and find someone’s skin that reflects with a solid silhouette.”
Seemingly unencumbered by anything, the nightlife people appear to free themselves off society. But Minami reflects that we all live in the same way, caught between freedom and constraints. Any deviation from the conventional framework, be it appearance or lifestyle, leaves you subject to criticism and discrimination. It is only human to feel the external pressure to conform, but there is strength in numbers. And operating within perimeters you and your tribe define frees you. Even momentarily.
To Minami, finding a place, a community, a visual identity is like a talisman or weapons that inspire you to resist the pain and suffering of everyday life. In the photographs, you can see the powerful gaze and contours of people living in an era that continues to shake.
Written by Stefanie Munck