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“Promise” by Kota Sake

A series of photographs by Japanese photographer Kota Sake are currently on display at the artist-run 35 Minutes studio space in Araiyakushi, Tokyo. Since this past April, Sake has been mounting three animal photographs on the 8th of every month “because of the Gomadaki ritual which is performed on the 8th of each month at the Araiyakushi Temple, the largest Shingon Buddhist Temple here in Nakano-ku.” The ritual event is well-attended by the local community and the streets of this usually quiet neighborhood become busy with a surge of passersby. For this ongoing series the gallery is set up as a vitrine, with the photographs installed in the windows.

During the time of this seventh installment, Sake told me a bit more about the project in a recent correspondence, “the animals I shoot are not wild animals, I photograph animals controlled by [human] society such as at the zoo, pets, race horses, on the farm and so on. I’m interested in this strange, or inconvenient, destiny of theirs so I take portraits of them because I feel like I can capture their expressions through their faces. When people look at the animals in the imagery, they try to understand their emotions in, well, human ways. This is a ritual of communication which occurs between humans and animals or photographs that might provoke the feelings inside a viewer which no words may convey. Animals can be the mirrors of us human beings. Most of the animal images are looking at you so you must make eye contact with them, and when you see the picture, you are too seen by the picture and thinking about this relationship brought about the title, “Yakusoku” (Promise). I wasn’t only thinking about the temple and the Gomadaki ritual held every month but I also thought about how the word “promise” has such a strong meaning, and that anything can be related to its meaning. Such as the project itself, serialized throughout the year, it is a commitment to myself as a photographer as well.” Indeed, “Why Look at Animals?

Studio 35 Minutes
5-47-8 Kamitakada, Nakano-ku, Tokyo

Images courtesy of Kota Sake

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