Some couple try all kinds of romantic tricks to keep love alive for longer, but Japanese photographer Haruhiko Kawaguchi takes a more literal approach – he wraps people in plastic wrap, sucks out the air and takes photos of their distorted bodies.
The bizarre images of people huddled together in weird positions, in vacuumed plastic wrap may look like stills from a a sado-masochistic practice, but they are Haruhiko Kawaguchi way of showing and preserving the love between two people. His project, “Flesh Love”, is pretty straightforward. Two people, usually couples, are “packaged” in a 100 by 150 by 74 centimeters plastic bag the artist buys from the Internet. After carefully arranging their body parts so he can get the best shot, Kawaguchi uses an old vacuum cleaner to suck out all the air and make the subjects look like a pack of packaged meat you buy at the supermarket. It takes about 10 to 20 seconds for hit to take the photographs, during which time the shrinkwrapped couple has to endure the pressure and lack of air. But it’s all in the name of love.
Love is the source of everything, according to Haruhiko, who like to be called Hal. A man who accumulates wealth does is out of love for his wife, or for expensive cars. People go to war out of love for power, or out of love for their country or their own life. So he feels proud to be able to capture the hottest, greatest moment of love, when the lovers are welded together in plastic wrap. If one of them dies, or if they break up, there is still this photo of their immortalized love.
The magic happens of the kitchen floor of Hal’s Tokyo apartment, under the watchful eyes of the artist and his American girlfriend, Katherine. Photo subjects are covered with lubricant so the skin doesn’t burn when the plastic presses upon it as all the air is sucked out. Still, the sensation isn’t very pleasant – the plastic seals off your nostrils, presses on your eyelids and the ears pop as if you’re diving into deep water too fast. Kawaguchi says he’s so far photographed about 80 couples for Flesh Love, and there have been some accidents. It’s the men who panic the most, he says. Four or five of them started struggling for air while in the bag, and one even peed in his pants, but none of them were able to break the plastic bag from the inside. But there have been no major incidents, and the artist always has oxygen sprays nearby.
So, would you have yourself wrapped in a vacuumed plastic bag, in order to have your love immortalized on a Tokyo kitchen floor?