Benjamin Füglister Photography Born in 1978 in Zürich, Switzerland. Lives in Berlin, Germany.
Project DescriptionFrom a central European view Japanese, particularly women, take great care to stay out of the sun. In western society the desire for white skin is rather antiquated, harkening back to a day when a tan linked sun exposure to outdoor labor. A fair complexion was prized for the social status it implied, of being able to stay indoors and have all work taken care of by slaves and servants.
According to several studies, both men and women view a tanned body as more healthy than a pale body. A bronze glow radiates health and freedom, despite any actual negative effects of tanning. Even amidst fears of skin cancer, tanning beds remain popular and profitable, and those who do care to watch out for their health cheat the system by using fake tan products including lotions, bronzers, or even spray-tan booths where you stand in a compromising position while dye is finely misted over your entire body.
In Japan white makeup, whitening creams, super-sunscreens, and more, are offered by the same companies that are marketing bronzers on the other side of the globe. Sun-protection is undoubtedly one of the reasons why Japanese manage to look so young. Still, these products are proof that youth is not the driving factor behind the desire for white skin - one could easily stay out of the sun and use fake tan products, but instead many Japanese are actually striving for even whiter skin than shade and sunscreen can provide.
Due to widely spread inacceptance of bronzed skin a rebellious group of girls started tanning in the early 1990. These so called Ganguros („Black Face Girls“) unexpectedly became extremely popular amongst young people, especially women in Japan. The purpose is to elicit the iconic look of tanned, blonde girls of California, USA. By rebelling against social restrictions and pressure they established a subculture that peaked around the year 2000 and is now the driving force of Japanese fashion developments. The Ganguros have their own fashion magazine called „egg“ and many a girl became a celebrity just by being a Ganguro. What was once subculture influences mainstream development to a big extent, leaving traces in social structures and views on individualism, turning into ever day culture itself.
Luminous.Radiant observes the influence of ganguro tanning culture on the ordinary society. Is it more popular to tan after the ganguro revolution? Are tanning parlours flourishing? Are tanned people just as accepted at work as non tanned people?
Exhibitions (Excerpt)2010, LEGS, pep+noname gallery, Basel, Switzerland
2009, LUMINOUS.RADIANT, IAF Shop, Fukuoka, Japan
2009, piclet.org / PopUp / #1 / Berlin / Seduction, Berlin, Germany
2008, Remember at the Oarhouse gallery, Manila, Philippines*
2008, Penetration 1 at pep+noname gallery, Basel, Switzerland
2008, Marina at Galerie Waschhaus, Berlin, Germany
2007, Body/Mind at pep+noname gallery, Basel, Switzerland
2007, Remember at 2. Foto Festival Mannheim Ludwigshafen Heidelberg, Germany
2006, Pick-up/Hide Away at Galerie Automatique, Art Basel, Switzerland
2005, Marina at pep+noname gallery, Basel, Switzerland
* Exhibition was cancelled by the gallery due to the fact that REMEMBER was to provocative to the audience.