Interview with Tama Murata
Tama Murata is a creator. producer, photographer and model. She works with her father, the famous photographer Ken-ichi Murata, to conceptualize images and execute them. Her father, a visionary, is best known for his erotic and surreal imagery based on classic literature and fairy tales. His reasons behind his work is best described in his own words:
“When I was ten years old, I came to realize that “the human will die someday”. And I got so afraid of death that I could not get out of my house at all. Since then I got anxiety neurosis and have been living with it. Therefore, this disease has influenced my life. And the consciousness of death which I always have influences my creation a lot. Then I will tell you how they influence my works.
With the action of binding, I can express “Captivity by others” and can also express “Self Captivity in mind”. And those expressions also reflect the condition that all my life was bound to my obsession due to neurosis.
There is a photograph that a rubber hose comes out of a girl’s vagina. The hose can be taken as a penis and also be taken as a umbilical cord. In that photograph, the girl, nourished by being connected with something, is sleeping. And her face is quite easy. In my image, the girl is like a peacefully sleeping fetus, and, as it were, a princess in the tale “The Sleeping Beauty”.
With such imagination, I derive erotic stories from fairy tales and classic literature, and by my interpretation, I remake the stories. And with my obsession, I develop the stories further to be unique.”
His techniques are unique too. He usually shoots with traditional film and his black and white images are hand tinted given them a subtle, victorian look. His images are rich and textures causing your eyes to move about taking in the details while your mind tries to fine meaning behind each image. He recently published a photobook, ”Upskirt Voyeur” in which he used a digital camera.
Mr. Murata also works closely with his models, listening and applying their input. His daughter, Tama, his longtime model and collaborator has been suggesting concepts to be shot and is, herself, a photographer and producer. She has learned a lot from her father and she applies it well. She will be one to watch in the future.
Tama, it is a pleasure to meet you. Photography has always been around you. Tell us what you think of your fathers work?
I think that his work is the Eros containing Thanatos. (ed. note: Eros is the drive of life, love, creativity, and sexuality, self-satisfaction, and species preservation. Thanatos, from the Greek word for “death” is the drive of aggression, sadism, destruction, violence, and death. So Tama is saying her fathers work contains elements of both.
How did you enjoy being a model for him? Were you able to find balance with things like school work?
I always been working as a model for as long as I can remember. For me, it was routine.
What, in your opinion, makes your photos special?
My photos are from a woman’s perspective. A girl’s power.
How do you come up with the ideas for your photographs? Do you work the same way your father does?
Both my father and I work from stories and tales.
Can you choose some of your favorite images and tell us about them?
I attached my favorite images.
As for this photograph, the father pushed the shutter.
This photograph expressed a girl’s strong power.
I would like to become a photographer who spins a girl’s dream.
Since many of the photos are erotic is it problematic to deal with censorship issues in Japan?
It is trouble in Japan that only a photograph contains sexual organs. My work does not contain sexual organs so it is not a problem for me.
I have read about your studio. It sounds like a fascinating place. Can you tell us about it?
I do not have a studio. I borrow all my father’s things but it is a great place to work from.
Do you see yourself developing your own style or would you like to follow in your father’s footsteps?
I would like to become independent and develop my own style.
Who are some of your favorite photographers?
My father, Ken-Ichi Murata, of course!
Do you also use the models your father has used?
I sometimes use models that have worked with my father but usually the model is myself.
Where else can we go to find out more about you and your work?
I’ll upload my work to my web more. This is my website: Tama te bako
I also had a solo exhibition from September 12 to the 29th in the Jinbocho Garou (art gallery).
And you can see my fathers work at www.ken-murata.com