photographs Hikari Kesho
graphic project Giovanni Sattin and Alberto Lisi
post-production of Stefano Lisi images
graphic layout and printing Centrooffset Master – Mestrino (Pd)
English translations Al Naber translations center Padova
Japanese translations Davide Spoladori
graphic design kanji Claudio Zalunardo
texts and bibliographic research Michela Lazzaro
communication and promotion Studio Lbs Comunicazione Padova
casting Michela Lazzaro
production assistant Antonella Marini
organizational coordination Vittoria Nalin
the volume was made with Fedrigoni Cartiere S.p.A.
Sirio Color Black cover
interior Symbol Freelife satin
GSK extra white parchment
Boundless is a photographic project that explores the boundaries of beauty understood in absolute terms.
The subjects are generously built women, photographed creating minimalist sculptural shapes by using bonding with hemp ropes according to the ancient Japanese art of Shibari.
All the photographs are… isolated from any space-time context, with the specific aim of underlining the abstract shape of the body modelled and sculptured by the lights, with the generous shapes enhanced by the pressure exerted by the hemp ropes, and emphasised by the light and shadow effects these produce.
Any judgement on the aesthetic evaluation of the extreme abundance of the shapes is suspended, as if there were no dominant aesthetic standard tending towards slender and tapered forms or identifying beauty with thinness, but an absolute and primordial female dimension, an archetype of a fertile woman that comes from the depth of the genetic inheritance of humanity ever since the most remote times, as witnessed by the Palaeolithic Venuses, with its highest expression in the shapes of the Venus of Willendorf.
These unusual proportions are thus isolated from any ethical or social context, freed from moral and aesthetic judgements, and they express their values for what they are: plastic shapes, sometimes expressed at the limit of abstraction, other times maintaining their anthropomorphic connotation, but never providing a carnal or erotic interpretation, and without any form of morbidity or moralistic intent.
The bodies are not depicted to underline their qualities or defects, but to communicate an absolute aesthetic sense of the harmony of their shapes, free from any form of personal estimation or interpretation, paradoxically creating a new aesthetic standard with an added value.
The shapes can recall the opulence of Fernando Botero, but in contrast with the works of the Columbian painter, where proportions are evidently taken to extremes and shadows are nearly non existent, the extreme abundance in the photographs does not have the connotations of intentional excess and the shadows have a fundamental role: they delimit and shape the figure, that is never dilated as in Botero’s works, but always well defined.
The abundance of the forms produces a contrast with the extreme conciseness of the Haiku, the short classic Japanese poems chosen to accompany each subject.
Another peculiarity of this project is that the photographer himself studied and did the bonding on the models, producing a unique work of art in this genre, at first creating a living sculpture and then photographing it with absolute rigour. There is no provocative intent, the bonding is a means for obtaining the shape, not the subject of the photograph. The photograph’s abstraction sometimes causes the model to be not the subject of the photograph itself, but only a medium.
Bondage experts generally seek the help of professional photographers in their work, as in the case of Midori, who got the photographer Craig Morey to take care of the photography in the book “The seductive art of Japanese Bondage”, which was certainly a source of inspiration for the study of some of the bonding carried out in Boundless.
It is very rare and difficult to combine expertise in both bondage and photography in a single person.
The main difference between this project and other artistic productions in the bondage field, is that the bonding in Boundless has an exclusively decorative and aesthetic value, with the intentional exclusion of any reference to the universe of fetish, of domination, and also of fashion, that are dominant in other artistic productions.
Since the apparition of the bondage-photography combination, the link to the world of fetish and domination has always been strongly present. The acclaimed father of this photographic genre is Irwing Klaw, who in the Forties, together with his sister and the model Betty Page, started producing photographic material destined to remain in the history of fetish photography.
In all bondage-related photographic productions, starting from Klaw onwards and right up to the present day, there are common features, for example the choice of Japanese, or anyway very minute models. This not only to respect the common aesthetic taste, and as a homage to the origins of the art of bondage, but also for merely practical reasons.
Certain standards can only be respected thanks to the standardisation of the models, so bonding that requires suspensions or semi-suspensions are much less complicated if minute and lightweight bodies are used.
The use of models completely outside the classic physical standards caused great difficulties in each bonding step, from the drawing board to the actual realization.
Despite all the objective difficulties that the models had to patiently undergo, there is a total absence of that suffering expression typically found in the work of other photographers, for example Nobuyoshi Araki.
The models in Boundless have an expression of serene contemplation, the same contemplation that is expressed by the Haiku that accompany each photograph.
Even the work of Namio Harukawa, a Japanese illustrator who exasperates the abundance of female shapes to emphasise their superiority in respect to men that are frail and subdued, has a completely different taste and meaning.
In Harukawa’s drawings the bonding is there only to immobilize and subdue the male figures, the female abundance is only a pretext for a visual and objective superiority, as well as a conceptual one.
All the elements in his illustrations rotate around woman’s domination and her physical and spiritual superiority.
It is the absence of any reference to domination and sufferance, the absence of carnality and eroticism, the suspension of any form of moral and aesthetic judgement, the great emphasis and meditative respect (of a nearly religious nature) with which the images of Boundless have been created, that make this project absolutely unique and new, letting everyone use his own interpretation, without ever trying to guide or direct the sensations generated by the images.