A Turkish Photographer Mines the Dark Side of Anime-Inspired Harajuku Style
The subjects of Akif Hakan’s photographs are more than just sultry females. They are carefully crafted characters, born from the strange world of the artist’s imagination. Drawing from a wide range of influences, including fashion, Asian cinema, and the history of photography—experimental portraits by Man Ray, for instance—Hakan’s images present a modern take on fanciful femininity.
Hakan, who hails from Istanbul but now lives and works in Miami, treads the line between fashion photography and fine art, and has earned recognition as “one of the best new generation photographers of the future” from Italy’s Max Magazine and a spot as a finalist in the International Color Awards. His works are defined by an affinity for vibrant palettes and a palpable aura of feminine mystique, whether conveyed through bright backdrops against which heavily costumed women confront the viewer, or more voyeuristic works set in domestic spaces.
In his recent body of work, Hakan explores a fascination with Asian cinema and culture. Works like those in the series “Love Triangles & Its Confusing Complications” (2013) bring the noir-inspired lighting and jewel-toned palette of Hong-Kong films like Wong Kar-Wai’s In the Mood for Love into the space of photography. Other images offer a glimpse into the flamboyant world of Japanese fashion. In Fashion Is Image and The Minds of the Mads VII (both 2009), Hakan appropriates Tokyo’s famed fairy tale and anime-inspired Harajuku style, presenting heavily made-up models adorned with toys, flowers, or S&M-style corsets. These women are unsmiling as they confront the viewer, raising the question: is this decoration merely a dramatic facade, or is Hakan’s work a critique of deeper cultural conditions?