Kotsuhiroi enjoys others not knowing, as well. The psyche of an artist is a paradox. On the other hand, she must posses an insatiable need to express herself, to undress in front of anonymous crowd, and be practically aching reveal the essence of her core for posterity. She must not only be nude, but naked. An artist, on some level, has to want to be a stripper. But on the other hand, she must be just as impassioned by the idea of communicating with divinity, that sublime state of unawareness when knowledge is passed down to us as if we were a vessel. It is in that which lies the paradox: an artist must be both a pornographer and a nun.
By not doling out the specifics, Kotsuhiroi appears to be safeguarding her work. To describe that which one holds sacred in vernacular is in a way to defile it a little, knock it down a peg or two. She is, perhaps, also preserving the singularity of the experience for the wearer. By not delineating in concrete language what each object is, how she conceived it, what inspired her, she is passing on the gift of a clean slate to the one wearing it. It is up the new owner, now, to endow the object with meaning from her own life.
I asked Kotsuhiroi if explaining feelings in layman’s terms is something she shied away from since it could possibly destroy the process of her creation. How did she feel having to explain her work in interviews? Was it an opportunity or was it something she had to encode in order to safeguard herself and her art?
“… feelings can sometimes be heavy and thereby very troublesome… and explain feelings is not easy, and I prefer to avoid to not damage “emotion”. So during interviews I use that “direct” and “physical” language of the poetry which is a form of feelings “translation”. And I’m not seeking specifically to “protect” things, I’m just in my place when I write that way,” she responded.
Not damaging emotion may also extend to not sourcing materials for her objects. According to Kotsuhiroi, “Materials are attached to a kind of “hunting”, of writing ritual which is organized not in “reason” but in a physical relationship to the things and the body. The body as a thought of action that seeks its need through its own language and its function of feeling… Materials have a soul and it is a form of seduction that I love.”
If Kotsuhiroi is elusive when talking about her craft, biographical information is a topic which she dismisses altogether. “I am not attached to the idea and concept of “background”, what I did is not important, what I am now is more “true”… I prefer the present to stay here and to see the “now".”
Selling her “objects” may be one of Kotsuhiroi’s goals, but it is without a question that photography and staging of them are integral to her expression as an artist. Her photographs are tinted with a bluish hue or are daguerreotype in style or simply black and white. And nearly all her objects are displayed on nude models.
As of today, Japanese laws prohibit showing female (and male) genitalia. Luckily, Kotsuhiroi lives in France and can take advantage of the liberties allowed her there and she does. A question then begs to be answered: are the nude models contributing to the objects as artistic background or are they merely an attention-seeking device? When asked about the significance of female nudity in her work, Kotsuhiroi’s replied, “Historically, female nude and its representation is a long story… Prehistoric Venus in forms of abundance, fertility goddesses from Africa or Asia, these Egyptian or Greek divinities who show their power… From Shungas to “The Origin of the Word” by Gustave Courbet, Charles Beaudelaire’s forbidden poems, Matthew Barney in this position of animality… The fragile nude that reveals its “rites of passage”, the intimate eye of the body’s relationship seeking the accessible beauty… I’m an emotional pornographer in a soul ceremony.”
Photography, in addition to staging, is also a medium for story telling. In Wet Moon, the layout of the images on her website, starting from the third photograph until the sixth, present a tale of a battle. The hand takes on a bird-like life as it struggles against an invisible enemy. In the third photo a giant ring - the materials of which are not revealed but appear to involve crystals and hair - is zoomed in on a hand with knuckles bearing hints of blood, pressing against her breast. As the photos progress, the hand, with its slender fingers, almost claw-like, begins to take on a more dominant role. In fact, Kotsuhiroi seems to be making the hand and the ring equals, two partners in their battle. In the next image, which depicts two rings, the blood appears to have all but dried up, though the long nails are polished and unharmed, perhaps signifying the strength of feminine power unaffected by conflict. The final image is similar to the one where the fingers are clutching the beast - the ring is now on the index finger instead of the middle one - but here, there is more force involved, more strength, as the fingers are not quite as composed. The hand has exerted itself, has given off energy, and now, bears history.
What does it mean? One rarely sees a designer display her rings on a bloody hand. Possible interpretations begin to surface: there is beauty in battle, there is beauty in pain, the object set amidst pain becomes more meaningful. Does this all tie in with Kinbaku?
What would these same rings look like on a perfectly unbloodied hand?
One could argue that the photography upstages its subject. The rings become interesting not in themselves but for their role in the story. Wet Moon translates more of a photography exhibit than a exhibit of adornments. Then again, the very context which integrates the piece so convincingly into itself may be what gives the “hand objects” their allure.
Perhaps, one of the reasons Kotsuhiroi can evade giving direct, literal replies is due to her refusal to give interviews over the phone. She writes, “… for me the phone is something completely impossible, I have a real “phobia” of the phone, it paralyzes me and I cannot talk normally at all…” Thus, the written medium permits her the kind of expansive freedom that the sound of one’s voice waiting for an immediate reply may not. But that freedom can be a bit of a chalenge when holding a dialogue.
Reading Kotsuhiroi’s poetry on its own, however, one gets the a sense of someone terribly fragile. Full of vivid imagery and emotion, Kotsuhiroi’s poems are thematic of disconnection, boredom, loneliness, love, creativity. Oblivion has some beautiful lines: “love had no direction… arrows to follow just to lock you up.” It is a complement to the “body object” Silent Tears, as together they resound a deep sense of loss, attempt to escape, confusion, and finally, acceptance of the entrapment.
Art as a salvation is another theme in her poetry. In Exotic Regrets, next to the photograph of All Sorts of Rains, she writes, “she had her two horns in each hand, to hear the heart of the animals. And when the sound of the bones told her something, she succeeded in holding back her tears…” One may interpret the animals as her creative drive, and when she receives communication, she experiences comfort for the pain sh is amidst.
There is a certain innocence to Kotsuhiroi, which is most evidently expressed through her poetry. Her work may be perceived as sexually explicit and macabre and her communication at times impenetrable. Yet, when in one of her poem in Exotic Regrets she writes, “She wanted to make moments that did not exist, a sort of relationship, images that made her happy,” it is hard to not find this artist, as abstruse and occult, surprisingly relatable.