FROM WHERE I AM LOOKING AT YOU (I CAN NOT SEE YOU) is a project that explores the relationships between nature, artificial representation, masculine theatre of power in Japanese and the gender unbalance regarding female presence in the professional arena. Exoticism also takes part on this project that extends between the nature of a half project / half paper that tends to look over the crossovers between the similitudes such as the female representation as the ´nature ‘and its contradictions in contemporary photography.
The illustration in Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (1975) contains an image of a tree with an altered shape taken from a book by Nicolas Andry, an eighteenth-century century French doctor and pioneer in orthopaedics. The tree had naturally grown crooked and is shown tied with cords to a wooden support to straighten it. As Foucault describes it, this tree (that is, a ‘body’) is gradually and thoroughly re-shaped by the forces of discipline and order, thus becoming a tableau vivant within an enclosure (that is, etymologically, a ‘garden’).
Japanese gardeners, which take care of the presence and essence of gardens and palaces in Japan, are 90% men. There are highly respected due to the political and cultural implications those places played in Japan´s history. Visiting traditional gardens in Japan one expects to see many old, strangely shaped pine trees. Those who have experience taking care of trees would notice from the condition of the branches and leaves that they have undergone careful trimming and pruning of the buds, and even the number of leaves has been meticulously controlled, following niwaki (garden tree sculpting) techniques to create twisted forms very present in traditional Japanese arts. This may reflect the ‘male gaze’ inherent control through the enforcement of order and discipline of the artisans involved. One of the greatest Japanese photographers, Nobuyoshi Araki, played extensively with the idea of the links between the body as playground, landscape and it´s playful sexual context within the art of bondage so present in the Japanese garden tradition. In his photography the women body is used almost as landscape continuing the tradition of painters and the own Japanese tradition of dealing with the garden and flora in general. That garden and it s female symbolism that have been explore widely in west and east art traditions, Boticelli, Goethe amongst others are an example of that relation between nature and the female body which can be drawn parallel to the east Asia tradition.
The way Japanese culture deals with the “natural” is highly restrictive and rigid, contradicting the acceptance of it without being controlled by the gardeners (i.e. male).
Studying a group of Japanese Gardeners, photographer Carlos Jimenez encounters the female baseball local team, called FLORA. Despite being the championships of the Japanese national league, where several of their players also play on the national team, their presence is highly unnoticed in Kyoto and Japan in general.
In Japanese culture, where nature has been under the domain of men due to it ́s importance in politics and power, its construction, manipulation and deformation to represent an ideal illustrate the way this culture deals with masculinity and femininity in a wider sense.
Contemporary Japanese photographers such as Ayano Sudo and Tomoko Sawada reinterpret the relationship between Japanese culture and its photographic translation, which it is widely influence by contemporary western photographers such as Cindy Sherman and Nan Goldin. These relationships draw a continuing line between two cultures that related to an unsolved issue between women representation by men and the dealing of women with it´s own image in the arts.
From fiction to documentary, theory, history and practice the proposal attempt to draw a discourse from experience on how to approach a topic within a contemporary photographic practice without losing perspective on the topics and history of the subject photographed.
Carlos Jiménez (Villacarrillo, Jaén, 1981) lives and works in London. Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Carlos complemented his training at Camberwell School of the Art (London) and the Royal College of Arts in London, 2015.
Carlos has been awarded the Labyrinth Award for his show at the Royal College Show 2015. Residencies and Awards include the RCA Kyoto University exchange grant (Japan) 2014, Cité Internationale des Arts Residency (Paris) 2014, St. Giulia FilmLab Award 2013 and Nordic Culture Point Award 2008.
Group shows include Royal College of Arts Show 2015, Offprint Tate Modern (London) 2015, KCUA Gallery (Kyoto, Japan) 2014, Galerie f5,6 (Munich, Germany), RCA Secret (London) 2014, FilmLab Film Festival (Italy) 2013, London Fashion Week (London) 2013, Loop Video Art Festival (Barcelona) 2012, In-Sonora (Madrid) 2012, Battersea Arts Center (London) 2012, National Library (Madrid) 2008 amongst other.
His work has been published at Der Grief Magazine, The plant, It´s Nice That, Blackdog Publishing, meanwhile he has undetook comissions by The Times, The Guardian, Victoria and Albert Museum, Bloomberg, British Council and Whitechapel Gallery, amongst others.
Primarily working in photography and video, Jimenez´s practice focuses on the analysis of what an image represents and what it is telling us about our position as viewers. Working across fiction and documentary, he builds narratives through the construction of highly staged photographs of actors and/or real scenarios populated by non-actors. In researching power, control, gender and their performativity, Carlos, has structured a body of work that plays upon the artifice of the traditional models of hierarchy, the white male position and its translation into imaginary.