The word Sumimasen is used in Japanese society to express both apology and gratitude. It anchors a formal code of behaviour which is mainly used in public interactions and uncommon within intimate relationships. This reflects a unification of social behaviour that can be seen as a mask, thus further alienating the private from the public. This plurality of attitudes in Japanese society is recognised by the terms “tatemae" (behaviour in public) and “honne” (true feelings); also known as putting on and off a “mask”.
Sumimasen by IPG Project (the New York based art duo Tamara and Yoshi Kametani) questions the concept of privacy and identity through Mayura (a pornographic actress living in Tokyo). By obscuring Mayura’s face with a mask, the photographers seek to challenge the very notion of identity. It is the face that misleadingly represents the essence of individuality. The use of a mask emphasises the idea that people need not reveal their faces to have their privacy breached. More than the face itself, it is a person's actions that primarily define their identity.
Mayura works mostly from home with multiple cameras monitoring her 24 hours a day. This footage is streamed to a website where people subscribe to watch her going about her daily life. In a time when the boundaries between private and public have been breached, it might be the privacy of our thoughts that constitutes the true and ultimately, last remaining, meaning of “privacy”.
Published by Éditions du LIC
First Edition, of 460 copies
23.5 cm x 17 cm
Hardcover, Hot foil embossed cloth covered
Offset printing, 16 pages silk screened with UV varnish
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The Library Project at 4 Temple Bar, Dublin 2.