by Noritoshi Hirakawa
When we first saw a handful of images from this series they evoked feelings of sympathy and vaguely voyeuristic arousal. It looked to be a particularly well-photographed reportage story on listless prostitutes, perhaps some poor girls destined for a life on the streets in...Cuba, say. But then we saw more images, and looked again, more intently, and realised this was something completely different; something quite incredible in fact. Japanese photographer Noritoshi Hirakawa, using a group of trained dancers and shooting on location at Mexican architect Luis Barragan's iconic, spartan, minimal house, has orchestrated a fascinating series that, through body language and suggested situations, explores ideas of sexuality, power and desire. The sharp, clean lines of Barragan's house and its myriad courtyards, doorways, levels and spaces become a stage on which Hirakawa achieves remarkably powerful, suggestive images with the trust and complicity of the models. Who else but a dance troupe would be so unselfconscious and expressive, and also be so comfortable being photographed in staged photographs of such intimacy.
The images, all in black and white, are beautiful studies in composition, and by eliminating the acid colours Barragan was famous for, Hirakawa makes the viewer focus solely on the interplay of light, form and emotion that make up this amazing series.