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photo-eye Book Reviews: Lovesody

Lovesody. Photographs by Motoyuki Daifu.
Published by Little Big Man Books, 2012.
Lovesody
Reviewed by Christopher J. Johnson

Lovesody
Photographs and text by Motoyuki Daifu
Little Big Man Books, 2012. Hardbound. 68 pp., color illustrations, 8-3/4x11-1/4".


Lovesody is Motoyuki Daifu's first photobook. It documents his brief stint as the lover of a young single mother during the time of her second pregnancy. Lovesody juxtaposes images of sexuality with those of motherhood in startling ways; though the work has been considered diaristic the presence of the photographer is nullified. Daifu is, we suppose, the eye of the camera.

The book itself opens with this statement from Daifu, "I met [Asami] when she was only twenty years old. She already had a two-year-old boy and she was already pregnant again. I fell in love with her at first sight. A girl and a mother. She had two characters in herself… This is our six month lovesody." From this point an interesting thing happens; we see Asami the mother, Asami the woman but, no Asami the lover. In that sense the book seems to fail at its promised delivery. Erotic is not an applicable term with these photographs; the sexuality present here always stands side by side with the motherly and becomes subsumed by it. The mature womanly form is always present with the form of the infant.

Lovesody, by Motoyuki Daifu. Published by Little Big Man Books, 2012.
However, these photos are intimate and tasteful. Daifu gives us a complete arc in the lives of his subjects as we follow Asami, the young mother, through the last three or four months of her pregnancy through her birth and, then, for a short while after until the end of the "affair." Though the motherly here defaults on old standards (dinnertime, the child in tantrum, breast feeding) it is unique to see someone so young assume the role and, also, provides us a rare occasion to view the domesticity of a young single mother living in Japan and for that cause alone accrues an achievement.

Lovesody, by Motoyuki Daifu. Published by Little Big Man Books, 2012.
Lovesody, by Motoyuki Daifu. Published by Little Big Man Books, 2012.
Daifu errs on the side of high focus, washed-out (or low color) photographs. Each picture seems saturated with light; the oddity in this is that one feels a sense of sterility built into the very collection itself, something of florescence and hospitals with their pale color schemes and diffused lighting and yet, something pure and almost virginal.

Lovesody, by Motoyuki Daifu. Published by Little Big Man Books, 2012.
Lovesody is a strong start for Motoyuki Daifu and well worth consideration. This collection grows on you. The casual observer feels at first a repulsion caused by the lack of Asami and her children's self awareness that, with repeated viewing, grows into an intimacy both startling and genuine; it is a view into the home that we all experience personally, but rarely encounter through the lens. This quality of honesty is one which I hope Daifu will continue to convey as his career takes shape.—CHRISTOPHER J. JOHNSON

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Christopher J. Johnson is originally from Madison Wisconsin. He came to Santa Fe in 2002 and graduated from the College of Santa Fe majoring in English with an emphasis in poetry. He is an arts writer for the Weekly Alibi in Albuquerque. 

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