“feels like somebody is watching”

On a bitterly cold and rainy night a friend came to stay. Silence hung heavy in the fading light, and I felt a dread of the long oppressive night ahead. Staring directly at my friend I felt a kind of impatience, of repugnance, of annoyance. I could run away any time. I began to think I really shouldn’t be here, but then, strangely, something began to dissolve inside of me, and my perspective suddenly changed to that of a cat kept in a woman’s room or an insect living in a kitchen.

In the darkness, or in the dazzling sunlight, I am suddenly overcome by the sense of a gaze, as if “somebody is watching.” It’s not necessarily the gaze of a person. I cannot help thinking that the gaze of something inappropriate is directed at me, wrapped around me. But of course it is me looking at myself and, on the contrary, I am simply there on my own.

If I took photographs, having abandoned my identity as a woman, I think this would leave me with no sense of reality. This doesn’t mean that I take photographs with a conscious sense of being a woman; just as from birth a man is a man, without being simply a woman, for me there is no beginning.

― "Camera Mainichi", August, 1970. Published by Mainichi Shinbunsha.

Artist Profile

Tamiko NISHIMURA

Born in 1948 in Tokyo, Nishimura graduated from Tokyo Photography College (current Tokyo Visual Arts) in 1969. Her graduation work was a photography series of Jōkyō Gekijo (Situation Theatre), forefront of the underground theatre movement led by Jūrō Kara. After her graduation, she met Daido Moriyama, Kōji Taki and Takuma Nakahira, three highly influential members of the Provoke movement. She assisted them in the darkroom from time to time up until 1972, while she continued her personal shooting on her travels. Later in 1973, Nishimura made her debut through the first publication “Shikishima” published by Tokyo Photography College, showcasing her photographs taken from 1969 to 1972 on her journeys around Japan including Hokkaidō, Tōhoku, Hokuriku, Kantō, Kansai and Chūgoku regions. She also began to travel to Southeastern Asia and Europe in the 1980s. Nishimura’s language of expression is poetic, spiritual and deeply personal. Looking back on her career, Nishimura describes it as a sequence of journeys, and she continued photographing with her nomadic lifestyle. Her photography, revealing what is beyond a journey, is a manifold portrait of life wherever she encounters.

Her main publications are “Shikishima” (Tokyo Photography College, 1973. Reprinted by Zen Foto Gallery in 2014), “vent calmoso” (Sokyu-sha, 2005), “Existence 1968-69” (graficamag, 2011), “Eternal Chase” (graficamag, 2012), “Kittenish...” (Zen Foto Gallery, 2015), “My Journey” (Zen Foto Gallery, 2018) and “Voyage” (Zen Foto Gallery, 2019). Her works are included in the collection of M+ museum (Hong Kong).

Gallery Exhibitions