A luminous yellow haze hangs over a road; a purple hue distorts the colouration of a nude body. Momo Okabe’s photographs are kaleidoscopic, distorting our conceptions with every turn of the page. I’ve been assured her new book, Bible, has been hard work, though having received the praise of Nobuyoshi Araki since her time at school is certain to have pushed Okabe to continue with her work. It’s clear to see that the notorious Japanese photographer has exerted his influence over Okabe, yet there is rawness to her work that Araki never really extended to.
It would be fair to say that Bible constitutes Okabe’s life since 2008, as she dealt with issues of sexual desire and repulsion. She says, “I used to go out with woman in the past, but I wasn’t sure if I was lesbian, or even bisexual. I never really liked men and really didn’t like looking at male genitals”. As such, Okabe hung out with a lot of sexual minorities, documenting their lives as she considered her own uncertainty.
Make no mistake, the photographs are dark, at times somewhat sinister (something Okabe herself acknowledges), yet there are small moments of joy. These fragments occur through what I would describe as an act of reincarnation, with the individuals taking happiness from their transformations. Okabe would seem to agree, saying, “I think it is totally fine that we can be reborn; we can kill ourselves [mentally] and overcome our personal issues with our sexuality”.
Okabe believes that the book is not necessarily about her, or even those close to her. Instead she thinks it is about all of us who experience forms of “trauma in our heart”. Bible may not show optimism explicitly, but it does show a pleasure in the form of being ‘present’, experiencing peace and contentment in our lives in spite of a lingering sense of fear.
You can find out more about Bible here.
— James Brown