Photography Who are the hatarakimono?
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Who are the hatarakimono?

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Anna Frattini

K-NARF and SHOKO, currently exhibiting at Numero 51 until June 10th, are a Franco-Japanese artistic duo that skillfully transforms the ordinary aspects of everyday life into extraordinary photographic projects. Blurring the line between reality and imagination, the HATARAKIMONO PROJECT – SATELLITE delves into the realm of portrait photography, experimenting with a unique blend of creativity and authenticity. Their unconventional approach to photography has garnered recognition from the prestigious Yves Klein Foundation, propelling them into the world of photography and contemporary art.

It all began in 2016 when K-NARF and SHOKO embarked on the HATARAKIMONO PROJECT in Tokyo, with a vision to create an extraordinary visual archive for the future. Over the course of two years, they took to the streets, armed with a portable backdrop, capturing moments that would later be transformed through their meticulous tape-o-graphic technique. This neo-analog method, invented by K-NARF and SHOKO in 2008, involved the painstaking manual transfer of photographs from Giclée archival prints onto transparent adhesive tape, resulting in a series of works that are truly one-of-a-kind and impossible to replicate.

In Japanese, hatarakimono refers to individuals who display unwavering dedication to their work, elevating their professions to a level of utmost dignity. But who are the hatarakimono portrayed by K-NARF and SHOKO in Milan? During their three-week stay in the city, the duo roamed the streets, capturing captivating images of various workers, including a diligent mosquito exterminator, a friendly gas station attendant, and the skillful bartender from the storied Camparino. In essence, hatarakimono can embody anyone and everyone—from airline pilots to bus drivers, from building ushers to chief executives.

The exhibition, however, goes beyond a mere display of the photographs taken in Milan. It offers visitors a comprehensive journey, with detailed explanations of both the hatarakimono concept and the intricate image processing techniques employed by the duo. The artistic duo’s ambition extends far beyond Milan, as they aim to expand their project to encompass 20 countries and 50 cities worldwide. Their quest for hatarakimono will ultimately yield an international image archive, preserving and recounting the stories of professions that may one day fade into obscurity.

Ph. courtesy Numero 51 – Concept Gallery and the artist duo K-NARF & SHOKO

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Written by Anna Frattini
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