Between Love and Death: Diary of Nobuyoshi Araki

Tracing universal stories of love, death and sentiments



Year 2018
  • Visual Identity
  • Exhibition
  • Art Direction
  • Print
  • Wayfinding
  • Editorial

Practice Theory was commissioned to design the identity, exhibition graphics and spatial layout of Between Love & Death: Diary of Nobuyoshi Araki. Presented as part of the 6th Singapore International Photography Festival, the show traces universal stories of love, death and sentiments told in a confessional diaristic style by Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki.

Described by Araki as shishashin or ‘I-photography’, the 118 photographs delve deep into the heart of the photographer’s relationship with his wife, Yoko, beginning with Subway Love (1963) and expanding into Sentimental Journey (1971) and Winter Journey (1990).

Central to the exhibition’s identity was Araki and Yoko’s wedding photo. Not different from (or even borrowing from) how one would typically place funeral photos, the one of Araki and Yoko was situated between the words Love and Death. The inherent tension between using a wedding photo at a funeral refers to a quote by Araki: that death and love are on the other side of life. This was brought to life at the exhibition where visitors were greeted by the original image placed on a monolithic black wall alongside the rest of the identity system. The black wall is the most fundamental intervention in the space, and as well as dividing the gallery, it acts as a central core to the exhibition, giving the viewing experience a sense of ceremony.

The design of the limited edition zine that accompanied the exhibition was inspired by Araki’s understanding of the medium: ‘Photography is copying’. By appropriating the reproduction method of Araki’s first photo books, visitors were invited to photocopy a series of portraits from Tokyo Love before sequencing and binding the zine themselves. This made them active participants, giving birth to new and unique relationships across the pages, and breathing new life into Araki’s diaristic photographs.

Practice Theory