Grasping for Breath: The Underwater Photographs of Tomohide Ikeya
Submerged bodies in pools of water twist and flail; their silhouettes are distorted by refracted light as they flounder just beneath the surface. Such is the imagery of Tomohide Ikeya’s ongoing series of photographs, titled “Breath,” in which the artist explores the relationship between life, death, and the limitations of human existence, at Micheko Galerie.
“The various phenomena and life forms which exist only in the water and the beautiful play of water and light brought me a strong sense of elation and excitement,” Ikeya says of the series. He explains that his fascination with underwater photography began with an invitation to go diving; once underwater, he was acutely aware of the restrictions to his movement, and the threat posed to his survival. These impressions inspired him in his quest to portray the importance of and human dependency on air. In Breath #005, a couple struggles, fully clothed underwater. A woman’s face is frozen in a visible state of anxiety, disoriented by her recent plunge. In another photograph, Breath #033, numerous bodies swerve underwater to avoid one another, while also reaching toward the water’s surface for air.
“When we are covered in water, the fear inside of us comes to the surface,” says Ikeya. “Beyond this, the condition of not being able to breathe reveals our attachment to life. I capture this entirely unpredictable scene of struggle.”