One woman and the war, written by Ango Sakaguchi, faced, as soon as it was published, in 1946, a censorship imposed by the Allied forces, occupying Japan. The original story was only revealed to the public in 2000 : that of an ex prostitute, forced to move in with a man, during wartime. Accused, at the time, of being a “propaganda tool, to broadcast the love of war” the book actually dealt with decadence, and the hopelessness of human beings as they faced a global conflict. “The two protagonists lived together, but they were not married”, writes Sakaguchi. “They already know that Japan would lose the war and that everything would crumble. It is not love that brought them together, but the ambiant chaos”.
The writer’s words haunted photographer Sakiko Nomura, who immersed herself into her own archives, looking for illustrations that would give life to Sakaguchi’s words. An ensemble of touching photographs, full or sorrow and erotism. “When I decided to create a book around this novel, I immersed myself for a few months into Ango’s work and my images” Sakiko tells us. Her usual masculine nude put aside, she instead chose to select female models, and lonely characters. The result is captivating. The isolation of the original narrative resonates in Sakiko’s pictures, and her delicate shadows enhance the novella’s sensuality.
The war’s legacy
For the photographer, war is a familiar theme, which echoed through her past. Her own grand-mother had fled the city of Manchukuo during the conflict, in 1945. To the artist, war was a legacy, left by her elder. As she got to know Satoshi Machiguchi, the book designer, Sakiko realised the universality of this heritage.
On November, 13th, 2015, Satoshi was in Paris, and witnessed the terrorist attack that occurred this very night. A traumatising experience, which kept resonating in him, reminding him of the events of the past. He then started to design books dealing with war. Ango is part of a series of creations, by Satoshi, four hybrid publications, blending together literature and photography. “When the two merge together, they gain a strong power of expression, and produce a unique result”, he explains. To illustrate the numerous influences of the book, he designed an asymmetrical object, creating a spiral through the pages’ binding, a symbol of a union between several artists. Sakaguchi’s narrative, illustrated by Sakiko, and designed by Satoshi form a breathtaking ensemble. An intense journey between life and death, love and despair.
Images © Sakiko Nomura, and © shashasha