Photographer Tomoko Iki

A joyous collaboration that breathes new life into each other's work

Sayaka Tokimoto-Davis (Sayaka): Thank you so much for this collaboration. I am so grateful and happy that we have created this beautiful work together. 

Tomoko Iki (Tomoko): Thank you so much, too. I was very moved to see my work swaying on the fabric. On my own, my work ends after I create and exhibit it, but I realize that there is more to it than that in this collaboration. 

Sayaka:As SAYAKA DAVIS celebrates its’ 10th anniversary, I wanted to do a project that would serve as a guideline for my personal creative expression and how to move forward as a brand. Fashion is not only about a designer expressing oneself; it is something that takes on meaning when people wear it. To me, that is the interesting part. I thought about my core, what I want to share through clothing. Going back to my center, the theme of "connecting with nature" came to mind. Since natural fibers are made directly from nature, clothes and nature are inseparable, and by wearing clothes, we can feel nature on our skin. That seems to be a form of "connecting with nature," and to give form to that as a collaboration project, I thought of your work. 

Tomoko: Thank you very much. It is a work that I cherish and I think it came out beautifully and it was a pleasure for me to work on it with someone I love and respect. 

“DANCE": a photographic representation of the invisible 

Sayaka:When did you start making the photography series "DANCE"? 

Tomoko:It was right after I started living in New York in the Fall of 2015. I lived near Prospect Park, so I often took my camera out and walked around in nature, taking pictures without thinking; and that's when I felt "the trees are dancing together". I had also been dancing as a form of self-expression and since my theme has always been "dancing with nature," I thought it would be interesting to express this in my photographs. Dance for me is a tool to feel the invisible and to connect with myself. In photography as well, I have a strong desire to capture the "invisible" rather than just capturing the beautiful things I see with my eyes and in order to express this feeling in my photographs, I came up with this multiple exposure method. 

Sayaka: It almost looks like an expressionist painting, poetic and mysterious. What kind of technique is multiple exposure? 

Tomoko: I take a number of photos, but I take multiple exposures of scenes in which I am moving or a tree is waving in the wind. I dare to shift or move and overlap different pictures. A photograph can only preserve a single moment in time, but in the case of multiple exposures, I can preserve the passage of time by layering several shots, just like a movie. Everything we see with our eyes now has a history of accumulation and nature is made up of an amazing accumulation of things. I believe this is also true of layering photographs.

Sayaka: When I shared the photos of the sample clothes with you, you said "Thank you for breathing new life into my work.” At that moment I felt like I learned the true meaning of collaborating with others. 

Tomoko: I was really moved by the feeling I experienced when I saw people wearing my work as clothing; it is as though my work has returned to nature, as if all the things I have been doing have come full circle. It was the first time for me to experience creating something with people with whom I can resonate leading to results beyond my own abilities, so I am truly grateful to have had such a gift-like happy experience.

Sayaka:When you lived in NY, we went to many places together. We are great friends and creative companions. 

Tomoko:My dance teacher is a mutual friend of Sayaka's and she introduced me to her saying, "If you are going to New York, I have a great friend there," and now we have become good friends. 

Sayaka:We often exchange our thoughts with each other after seeing exhibits and shows and I always learn different ways of seeing things and ways of thinking from you. Your solo exhibition in NY last year was such an experience. Walking through the works of "DANCE" printed on large sheets of washi paper as tall as I am, I felt as if I was entering a different world, like being in a forest; and what I felt through my body at that place and time remains with me. 

Tomoko: Perhaps the fact that you were able to see and sympathize with my physical show and its scale led to this collaboration. 

Sayaka: We tried to collaborate once before a few years ago, but at that time I had a different approach and was not able to incorporate Tomoko's work into the clothes properly. We tried to come together, but I wasn’t ready to make proper space within which a collaborating artist could work. So I had been holding on to the thought that one day I would definitely like to complete a collaboration with Tomoki, when I was ready. As I have continued to make clothes, I have finally come to understand various things; and through my interactions with various people, I have come to believe that it is best to trust the creators and let them work as freely as possible to bring out the best of their creativity. This time, I was allowed to use Tomoko’s work "DANCE" as-is and I incorporated it into the clothes. 

New creations born from connections

Sayaka: When I chose the materials, I had an image of your solo show, your work printed on Washi paper. So I wanted to create a texture with a sense of natural movement rather than something too clean. We used a sun-dried silk-cupro lawn material and a cupro satin material with a crushed finish. Both of these materials have a wrinkled texture and a shimmering drape, to fit the world of the photographs. 

Tomoko: When I first saw the samples, I was impressed. I had always wanted to print my work on cloth, but it was something I could not do on my own. It was a great pleasure for me to see how much my work could expand by working with others. 

Sayaka: Through this project, I fully realized that by connecting with others, I could create something new beyond the scope of my own expression and I felt that this was what I want to do now. Creating something new with people who resonate with each other. I hope to continue to create like that. 

Tomoko: I had no experience of working together with others to create something and always worked alone. I was at a loss as to how to proceed with a collaboration project, but happily, I was able to collaborate with SAYAKA, a person who understands me. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to experience the excitement of creating something that exceeded my expectations.


Tomoko Iki

Tomoko Iki was taken with the desire to do photography and dance at the same time in her life. For her, these are two sides of the same creative force and they mutually inform one another. Her dance influences her photography. Through dance she explores her own spirit. It is a meditation and ritual in which she offers herself to nature. Dance has revealed to her a deep sense of her own femininity as well as the ancient human desire to connect with the divine. With her photographs, she tries to convey this universal desire and how movement through dance moves us forward toward truth.

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