Intimate and unique portraits, capturing the purity of life before the eruption of violence.
About the Artist
Tsunaki Kuwashima (b. 1972, Tokyo, Japan) is a unique breed among photographers. His intimate portraits of dogs, cocks and bulls – all used for fighting – capture the purity of life before the eruption of violence. Over the years, Kuwashima has followed the lives of the animals, their caretakers and the communities who still breed these indigenous creatures in small parts of Japan following the-age-old tradition of animal fighting that dates back for centuries. The animals are revered and respected, and the fights are held under strict rules with honour rather than money at stake. As contradictory as this may sound, these fighting animals are in the majority of cases looked after with utmost pride and care as though they descend from a higher order.
Here, Kuwashima focuses on the extraordinary rise and demise of one of the most successful fighting bulls, Fukuda Kiwamichi (1995?- 2010). Considered to be the strongest in Tokunoshima island’s bull fighting history, Kiwamichi I’s glory is eternalised through Kuwashima’s lens. The bull was for many years the pride of Tokunoshima, a tiny island that sits some 500km south of the southern tip of Japan that Kuwashima calls the ‘Bullfight Island’. The bull fighting tradition here and the surrounding Amami region has a history of some 400 years dating back to the time when the area was under the control of the powerful Satsuma clan. Tokunoshima in particular has been renowned for its strong bulls and the dedication and respect its people give to them.
– Kazz Morohashi
The 11 images of fine art were printed by the master artisans at the Benrido Atelier using the collotype process. Part of a limited edition of 30, each portfolio is encased in a clothbound cover with an original hand crafted silver plate and was produced as part of Tsunaki Kuwashima’s exhibition Midsummer Death during the 2016 Kotographie International Photography Festival.
The portfolio includes introductory text by Tsunaki Kuwashima and essays by Michael Horsham and Kazz Morohashi.
Text available in Japanese and English.