• Inside her spirit, a healing pool

    Date posted: January 28, 2010 Author: jolanta

    Healing is never easy. It is a process of change, transformation, an acknowledgement of sickness and then a movement toward an idea of well-being, whether it is a conventional or unconventional definition of well-being. Kangal Balıklı Kaplıca, Turkey: a tourist, riddled with a dermatitis branded incurable by Western medicine, bathes in a hot spring and is miraculously cured. Diseased flesh is eaten away by the magical Balıklı fish, exposing new skin to sunlight and the nutrient-rich spring water. An epic healing process begins…

    Josh Hogan

    Healing is never easy. It is a process of change, transformation, an acknowledgement of sickness and then a movement toward an idea of well-being, whether it is a conventional or unconventional definition of well-being.

    Kangal Balıklı Kaplıca, Turkey: a tourist, riddled with a dermatitis branded incurable by Western medicine, bathes in a hot spring and is miraculously cured. Diseased flesh is eaten away by the magical Balıklı fish, exposing new skin to sunlight and the nutrient-rich spring water. An epic healing process begins…

    Namiko Kitaura went to Balıklı Kaplıca expecting something mystical, spiritual, magical even. Images of transcendental healing immediately sprang to mind—of diseased skin being renewed, rendered beautiful once more, schools of tiny magical fish swimming in a pool of holy water. In the end, the experience was something far more earthbound, human, and humbling. Elements of healing seemed far more on the level of the psyche, healing on an emotional landscape rather than on a physical one.

    Kitaura’s images for this project are a reflection of this emotional landscape and transition. Stills of a lone featureless body, suspended in water, like a pre-birth child in amniotic fluid, as well as isolated body parts are the main mode. Images of fish are the main other featured element, a connection to the symbolic, the spiritual, the archetypal. The pieces are very realistic and raw texturally, no extensive post-production, lots of underwater footage and close-ups of body parts dissociated from the body form as a whole.

    Water is an external element that is symbolic of an internally felt force which cannot be captured or rationalized—emotion. Themes of submergence, of reflection and the nature of light underwater all contribute to the symbolism of water and its connection with the emotions. The figure in the photographs seems almost suspended in its own pool of emotions, with a movement that implies grace, melancholy, and healing.

    The project was initially meant to be a representation of health, beauty, transcendence, and sensuality within the diseased, the ugly, the ostracized, the “other.” The piece eventually became more about the healing process for the individual within this context of otherness. This meaning-reversal/juxtaposition and its connection to the psyche and the emotions is an important theme in Namiko Kitaura’s photography.

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