The Stereoscopic Eye

Inessential views of art and photography.

Delicate and strong. Dreams and travels. Kitamura and Araki.

Mika Kitamura: capturing ephemeral beauty

Over a year and a half ago I started following Mika Kitamura in Facebook. I do not remember how I came across her work, but I remember staring at her photographs feeling overwhelmed, finding myself lost and located at the same time in the middle of Kitamura’s transience, absence, dream-like images. Her website left me longing for more. And that is how I began to receive occasional updates, how I started to wonder about a Japanese female photographer with a strong connection with German and the attentive eye of a dedicated traveller. Are you also an avid travelling photographer? Share your work with us in a comment below!

Penumbra by Mika Kitamura

Image from Penumbra series by Mika Kitamura

Slowly but steadily I fall for Kitamura’s work and last autumn decided it was time for me to see more. So, I messaged her in Facebook and asked her how I could get a copy of her book “Einmal ist Keinmal”. The books is almost self-published as she explained and supported by the label of Therme Gallery, where her work was exhibited in March 2013. 

Einmal ist Keinmal, by Mika Kitamura

Einmal ist Keinmal, by Mika Kitamura

Overall I am very attracted to the balance between delicacy, strength and oddness of Kitamura’s images. They transport me immediately to a world that is unfamiliar and yet recognizable. Aesthetically, I am drawn to the way Kitamura plays with light and fading colours. Shapes and lines guide the viewer, little details (obscured, hidden, quasi out of frame) call for a second, more reflective look at her work.  

Einmal ist Keinmal, by Mika Kitamura

Einmal ist Keinmal, by Mika Kitamura

The pictures in the book seem to be engaged in a conversation: they talk to each other and we are gazing from above (literally), almost spying on them.

Einmal ist Keinmal, by Mika Kitamura

Einmal ist Keinmal, by Mika Kitamura

Einmal ist Keinmal, by Mika Kitamura

Einmal ist Keinmal, by Mika Kitamura

To me, Kitamura’s work is about transit, about unrepeatable moments, about being in the middle of something and using the camera to fly above and have a distant, de-attached look. She shows the world through fogged up windows, through mist and reflections. And by doing so she plays with reality, with how we look at things, with how we interpret our surroundings. When I flip the pages of her book I am pushed to think about myself in different roles, about how life is about letting yourself go on the one hand, and about going back and reflect on the other.

Nobuyoshi Araki: life, love, death

In the same book there is a little black and white photographic essay titled “my small fib”. It reminds me very much of ” Sentimental Journey* ” by Nobuyoshi Araki. Both works are about a journey and a journey of sentiments, of feelings, of love. Kitamura mixes image dimensions, while Araki doesn’t. The very personal nature of this work is clear, in her case the feelings arise from the very loaded images. I see both of them as oasis, islands of personal development and growth in the midst of a photographic journey, which took Araki to every corner of Tokio and that is taking Kitamura to many places on earth.  Araki’s journey is full of transcendental themes: life, marital love, disease, sex, death. And it spans for years. Kitamura’s “my small fib” is the beginning of a longer journey. I’d love to see it grow along with her photography and have the pleasure of looking back at a new version of it in some years. 

“Sentimental Journey” by Araki at the Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst, Cologne

“Sentimental Journey” by Araki at the Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst, Cologne

“my small fib” by Mika Kitamura

“my small fib” by Mika Kitamura

Looking at “my small fib” transported me immediately to the exhibition corridor in Cologne, where I saw “Sentimental Journey” a couple of years ago. It made me think of what photography is about, of what photographers want or need to capture, of why we all feel compelled to photograph continuously.

“Maybe photography is simply a means to connect with people
Maybe it is merely a symbol for the things we perceive.
So what is photography?
That remains a mystery.”
Mika Kitamura

“Einmal ist Keinmal” is at reach on my shelf now. I’m looking forward to see more of “Penumbra”.

*If you watch the video, spare the music. The images are powerful enough.


2 comments on “Delicate and strong. Dreams and travels. Kitamura and Araki.

  1. Eli
    April 24, 2014

    Hi there. Really enjoyed reading your post on Einmal ist Keinmal and Mika Kitamura. I would love to get a copy of this book and wondered how you managed to get a copy as I don’t seem to be able to find it anywhere!


    • northnomads
      May 3, 2014

      Hi there,
      Thanks for your comment and apologies for the late reply, but we have been travelling for the past three weeks.
      If you want one copy of the book, get in touch with They sent me the book quickly after processing the payment via paypal.
      Patri and Jake

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