Monday, 24 May 2010

The Pillow Book - handwriting more important than the surface of the face

The Pillow Book is Peter Greenaway's movie (1996) which dramatize the ceremonial of calligraphy on human skin. The brush's slight caress on the body and the mystery of those signs, develop an irresistible eroticism.  The film's central character, Nagiko flees from Kyoto to Hong Kong, where eventually she finds work as a fashion model and begins to seek lovers who will fulfill her dreams. For her the appearance of a person's handwriting is more important than the surfaces of his face; she wants to be used as a book, to be written on, to be read.

Her fetish ties in with two ancient Japanese artistic practices. One is the art of tattooing, which can be much more elegant and artistic than in the west, and is used by the yakuza as a way of bonding with their criminal brothers.  It can be seen as a form of submission - to the will of the tattoo artist, to the will of the group dictating the tattoos, or simply in the willingness of a person to be used as an object.

1 comment:

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