Blind Date by Lieko Shiga starts with a gaze: a black-and-white shot of a young woman who leans forward against the back of a young man seated in front of her. The flash bounces off of the rounded features of her face, and while the boy looks straight ahead, away from the camera, the girl stares straight into the lens. The sense of movement carrying them along is palpable.
Images of different couples follow one another, all based on the same format. The distance from the subject, the angle of the shot, and the lighting vary slightly from one image to the next. Like seaweed resisting the tide, Shiga submits to the current but focuses her attention on the same scene repeated endlessly. Regardless of the underlying idea—we know that it was in the summer of 2009 that she photographed these couples of bike riders in the streets of Bangkok, Thailand—these images contain a theory of sensuality in photography: the sensuality that develops between the observer and the subject drawn outward, leaving her context for a brief moment to establish offhanded, intimate contact with another world.
Someone said in reference to walking that we walk faster to forget and slow down to remember; similarly, in Shiga’s pictures, the bikers catch up with us and then leave us behind, and we are lulled by the rolling wave of images into wondering, not what we know about these evanescent figures, but what they, so strangely trusting, introvert, and penetrating, may know about us. As is the case with all brilliant images, Blind Date thus becomes a window as much as a mirror.
5-9-8 Nakanobu, Shinagawa, Tokyo 1420053 Japan
December 12, 2017 to January 12, 2018