Next Generation Award photo story

Special Mension

Tokyo Underground

Ayu Watanabe



I get the feeling that people (especially women) are gradually being materialized, commercialized, and consumed by others and society. It's like they're killing off our actual looks and feelings for the sake of keeping the economy rolling and improving productivity. When we look in a mirror or take selfies, we are producing and consuming our own selves. Even if the outside world rejects my looks or thoughts, nothing can bother me while I'm alone and looking towards myself. When I walk through the town, I see plenty of women constantly checking their appearance. Mirrors are one thing, but the development of ID photo booths, smartphones, and social media makes women painfully aware of how they look every day. It doesn't matter if they're troubled with their looks, personality, or general lifestyle; even if they're trapped in some spiral of self-exacerbation, they can use a smartphone app or some image processing function to transform into their ideal self, materialize that self in the form of a photograph, and obtain a kind of happiness that can't be shared with others. If you take your eyes away from it all for just a bit, you'll see that dozens of media exist proclaiming that appearances that completely differ from yours are ideal, or hear many complaints to deny your own declarations. These women may have lost their confidence, but at the very least I want to praise their diversity and imperfections.


I feel honored to receive this award. I want to continue to produce works of art.