Nobuyoshi Araki’s Archival Corpo-Rapture

Ana Došen


Nobuyoshi Araki is one of the most famous and controversial Japanese photographers, whose work amounts to several hundred publications. Over the course of nearly five decades, this prolific artist’s ‘photo-mania’ dealing with, among various subject matters, a depiction of human bodies, often eroticized and graphic, has been both celebrated and heavily criticized. Instead of contributing to those discourses of either support or disdain of his artistic vision – especially on the issue of fetishized female nudity – this paper focuses on Araki’s insatiable lust for capturing Japan’s corporeality. His unrelenting inspiration to encapsulate Japanese bodily images has generated an immense collection of not only personal(ized) memories, but also of various types of archives – intimate and public – of the spontaneous and the staged, reflecting the ephemeral, transitory or epochal. Drawing on Derrida’s notion of archive in realtion to Freudian death drive, this paper explores Araki’s archive fever as a mechanism of subjective power imposed on the collective body. The proliferation of his photo series unveils Araki’s tendency to ‘destroy’ the previous encounters while simultaneously adding to his ultimate repository of somatic images with each new volume.

Article received: December 10, 2018; Article accepted: January 23, 2019; Published online: April 15, 2019; Original scholarly paper

How to cite this article: Došen, Ana. "Nobuyoshi Araki’s Archival Corpo-Rapture." AM Journal of Art and Media Studies 18 (2019): 107–116. doi: 10.25038/am.v0i18.301


Nobuyoshi Araki; photography; body; archive fever; eros; thanatos

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