>> Japanese 日本語

“After Misako Oba left a successful career as a broadcaster for Japanese television in Japan and New York, following some personal hardships in Japan, she moved to New York and began anew as a photographic artist. Oba’s early work, in the series “El Camino” and “Fireflies,” showed idiosyncratic interpretations in a mysterious and partly abstract manner of such cities as Tokyo, Paris, Brussels, and New York. The work was just gaining critical interest when her progress was interrupted by a new personal tragedy in 2006—the discovery that she had the very rare medical condition A.V.M. (Arterio-Venous Malformation) in the pinkie of her right hand. Heavy spontaneous bleeding and several failed medical procedures lead to the dreaded decision to undergo an amputation in the U.S. without the presence of her family, who were in Japan.

Her project FAUSTUS, dealing with this personal struggle to come to an understanding and acceptance of a rare medical condition that struck her unexpectedly, clearly shows her power of turning these horrific events into a stunning art project of universal application. This work is personal but universal, a drama exploring the most basic of human tales—facing fear and “loss” with courage. Had she not been an artist of exceptional ability and courage, this trauma would have remained known only to herself and circle of close friends and family. Instead it stands as a visible monument to a human spiritual journey, an X-ray of a young woman’s soul. I believe that all of her art reflects, to a degree few artists can match, a clear-eyed appraisal of the conditions of her emotions and her soul. Her work is uniquely passionate and engaging.

The self-portraits work might be compared to Francesca Woodman’s and Cindy Sherman’s quest for an alternate identity. In Oba’s case, one sees the perseverance of a loving spirit, and a validation of the eternal beauty of the female persona. [……]”

Quote from Afterword of [FAUSTUS] by Gary Edwards,
Gary Edwards Gallery
Washington, DC

Gallery Director Gary Edwards

 >> Japanese 日本語

“Since photography appeared in the 19th century, photographers began actively attempting to make self-portraits, which before this period, was mainly the purview of painters. However, I believe that the way photographers make self-portraits is somehow different from the ones that painters make. Painters tend to seek and explore a “unique-self” centripetally, so to speak. On the other hand, artists using photography usually strive to separate and break themselves down at each stage in multi-dimensions at first, and as time goes by, they would accept the transformation
of themselves as the way it is, and record them in photography without idealization.

It can be said that Misako Oba’s photographic series FAUSTUS is also descended from the shared ancestry of the experiment of self-portraits by such artists. […..]

In the wake of the abnormal bleeding from her little finger, she experienced one after another, the stages of ‘fear, sadness, anger, confusion, conflict, despair, and even acceptance, hope, and joy.’

What is unique about her FAUSTUS project is that she continued photographing scrupulously over time the large physical shift, as well as the mental and emotional
fluctuations. In the meantime, she also photographed the drawings made with her own fresh blood, and the notes with trembling characters written by her shaking hand.[…..]  by viewing those images that were recorded over the course of the process, I came to feel her physical pain and emotional shakes. This is a shared solidarity with the personal, unique points of others. More or less, it would be quite possible for us to fall into a similar situation in our lives.

By presenting her story in the form of a self-portrait, Oba seems to be attempting to share her experiences, such as agony and hope, as a more openly universal story, instead of making it an isolated personal incident. Her attempt seems to be admirably successful.”
Some quotes from commentary titled
Sharing of Agony and Hope,
by Kotaro Iizawa (Photography critic) on Misako Oba’s [FAUSTUS]

Photo Critic Kotaro Iizawa