Kazuyoshi Usui’s Showa trilogy is inspired by Philip K. Dick’s novel The Man in the High Castle for its depiction of a parallel reality. His Showa trilogy, which he has been working on for nearly 10 years, is based on places that give a hint of the Showa era, in which he grew up, but is now disappearing. Usui does not work on his own memory but imagines Showa as if the era had continued to the present. He depicts places typical of those to be found in underground or B movies, as well as the marginal people who live there in reality, in their minds, or the photographer’s imagination. The viewer wonders whether the image represents reality or some staged scene. His photographs question the real and the fake. He creates tragicomic, illusory fictions that seem like narratives but are more like legends in which the viewer can choose to create the story that develops in the interstices between the photographs. Usui was inspired by the Japanese painters Kiyokata Kaburagi and Settai Komura for their use of color, as well as by the cinematography of Kazuo Miyagawa (who filmed Rashomon of Kurosawa, winner of the Cannes film festival in 1951) and director John Waters. The concept of opposing beauties (Taikyoku no bi) also permeates the Showa trilogy. Both pairs of dichotomies like “indecency and the sublime,” “terror and the comical,” “Eastern beauty and Western beauty,” and “Life and Death” are embedded in his images. Usui studied under the pioneering photographer Hosoe Eikoh. The influence of Hosoe is visible in Usui’s black and white photographic work, such as Macaroni Christian. Usui originally wanted to become a filmmaker but turned to photography as soon as he started practicing it.
B04 Kazuyoshi Usui - Showa Trilogy: Bookshop Exhibition