Haruhiko Kawaguchi: Claustrophobic Love

“I want to capture love as it really is and the bathtub is an ideal vehicle to encapsulate the vivid reality in my images. A grand theme in mankind is Love and I, Photographer Hal, am challenging the majestic theme!”

By Balthazar Malevolent

Haruhiko Kawaguchi: Claustrophobic Love

Japanese photographer Haruhiko Kawaguchi better known under his pseudonym Photographer Hal, literally wraps couples in love in 100x150x74 centimeter plastic bags. The latter huddle together, holding their breath as Kawaguchi wraps the film around them, vacuums the air out of the bag, and finally takes the photograph.

The photographer has just 10-20 seconds to take the image. Any procrastination in such an extravagant situation would entail a risk to the health of the models. The result of the above manipulations is a very strange, but somewhat endearing photo that evokes a rich spectrum of associations, from a sensual love scene to a frozen chicken wrapped in polythene.

The photographer says that the women he worked with tolerated the wrapping much better than men. The women tended to remain calm, whereas the males were prone to panic struggles for a breath of air and bouts of claustrophobia. One of the men even wet himself in the process. The ladies, on the other hand, were more concerned about how they would look in the picture.

Around eighty couples took part in the Flesh Love project. Kawaguchi met many of them in the nightclubs of his native Tokyo. When you hold someone you love in your arms, sometimes you want to literally dissolve inside - the photographer shared - To capture that feeling, I've shot couples in small or even cramped spaces such as motel rooms or bathrooms.

I tried it out on myself too - says Kawaguchi - and experienced the overwhelming fear. The pressure of the film gets stronger and stronger. The two lovers grow closer until finally they become one. For me, the vacuum pack is just a means. What really matters is the connection between the two people. Kawaguchi's aim is to convey the feeling of complete unity that comes from a couple in love.

Haruhiko Kawaguchi

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