Regular readers of It’s Nice That will be familiar with our fondness for a photography series featuring swimmers. From after-school swim teams or the ladies of Hampstead Heath’s ponds to uniform Olympic athletes, we’ve covered many a project in our time. Now that Japanese photographer Osamu Yokonami has released his own interpretation in Mizugi, here we are yet again, writing about a different kind of swimming series altogether.
At four points of the year, alongside the collection of other brilliant photography books it publishes, publisher Libraryman releases a special tome based on the season at hand. The project is inspired by Kim Ki-Duk’s feature film Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring which documents “the shifting nature of the seasons and further influencing the protagonist’s fosterage,” the publishers explain. In turn, its series allows the chosen photographer to interpret the season openly, concentrating on “simple, yet profound ideas”.
Osamu’s series Mizugi, represents the incoming and much-awaited spring season in a series that is both full of warmth and chilliness at the same time. By photographing a group of swimmers in natural surroundings, the series represents spring in its ability to show moments of sunlight bounding off shoulders, to a detailed close up of goosebumps from that moment of just getting out the water. When grouped together in a publication designed by Tony Cederteg, Mizugi’s mix of images taken throughout a day showcase the subtle magic of spring, but also its unreliable weather forecast.
A regular feature in Osamu’s work is to never show the faces of his models, photographing a large group with their backs turned in a cult-like, slightly eerie way for those easily spooked out. Where other series by the photographer have had a Japanese arthouse film vibe, Mizugi’s use of a swim team uniform makes the anonymous group recognisable and a little softer than his previous works. But as Libraryman’s brief for the book describes, each of “the works can be perceived differently, depending on the season”.
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