JTF (just the facts): A total of 25 color works (22 single images and 3 diptychs), framed in white and unmatted, and hung in the main gallery space. All of the works are c-prints taken in 2011. The prints come in three sizes: 14×17, 20×24, and 30×40 (or reverse), all in editions of 10. The diptychs are made up of 11×14 or 20×24 photographs. There are 7 small images, 11 medium sized images, and 4 large images in the show, plus the 3 diptychs. A monograph of this body of work was published in 2011 by Little Big Man (here) and is available from the gallery for $75. (Installation shots at right.)
Comments/Context: The history of photography is filled with photographers and their muses: Stieglitz, Strand, Callahan, Gowin, the list goes on and on. Motoyuki Daifu follows in these weighty footsteps, making affectionate pictures of a young single mother during her pregnancy and the subsequent birth of her second child. He is undeniably smitten with his subject, and his playful images feel like snapshots from an intimate family album. While the infatuation only lasted six months, the warm energy of his crush lives on in the pictures.
These are casual images, unconstrained by typical Japanese formality and societal control. The young mother shows off her pregnant belly flanked by a pile of garbage bags, hangs up laundry and Hello Kitty baby blankets in the cramped bedroom, cooks a meal wearing only a towel (exposing her bare bottom), and takes a bath with her son in the tub. Half eaten toast, cigarette ashes in a plastic Winnie the Pooh bowl, leftover breakfast dishes, and a tornado of discarded toys decorate her small chaotic apartment. His images of her wander between the trials of motherhood (breastfeeding, exhaustion, crying children) and the reality of her attractiveness (clutching a microphone on the floor of a karaoke room or splayed suggestively on a mattress). Whatever she does, he finds it cute and endearing.
Even though many of these photographs seem quick and ephemeral, quite a few capture a surprising depth of emotion. He is enamored, charmed, and thoroughly fascinated by this woman, and his fondness has the ring of authenticity. We’re voyeurs taking in the action second hand, but Daifu’s charged atmosphere is a vivid reminder of the spellbound state of young love.
Collector’s POV: The photographs in this show are priced as follows. The unframed single images are priced based on size: the 14×17 prints are $1000, the 20×24 prints are $1600, and the 30×40 prints are $3000. The unframed prices of the diptychs are also based on component size: the works made up of 11×14 prints are $1800 and those made up of 20×24 prints are $3200. Daifu’s photographs have not yet entered the secondary markets, so gallery retail is likely the only option for interested collectors at this point.