NAM are a collective of creative individuals encompassing photographers and graphic designers to make-up artists and stylists. There are “about” 10 members and their reluctance to define an exact quantity of collaborators speaks volumes to their philosophy and overall aesthetic.
Beginning this Friday (2/25) A Fantasy In Life opens at Public/Image.3D a multi-purpose event space in Shibuya. For the first time ever a number of Nam’s previous works will be on display, as well as new work created specifically for this show.
The group was founded in 2006 by graphic designer Takayuki Nakazawa and photographer Hiroshi Manaka. Nakazawa talks about the groups beginnings in an interview here. He had enlisted Manaka to take a portrait of himself but, unsatisfied with the results of a conventional portrait, the two decided to take clippings from an old movie poster and collage it onto the face. Looking at this work Nakazawa recalled Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali’s 16-minute dreamlike film Un Chien Andalou. Nakazawa confided in Manaka and the two, inspired by what the human psyche could create, began NAM. The naming is simply derived from the initials of the two founders. It’s a nice story but it’s also crucial in understanding the body of work that ensued over the next 4 years.
Perhaps the most striking characteristic of their work is the visual effects, or lack thereof; they employ none. Each scene is meticulously constructed using lots of strings, conventional photography and other old-school (and low-budget) techniques. It’s hard to not notice the dream-like imagery that walks a thin line between fantasy and nonsensical. I personally find their work both mesmerizing as well as little scary. I find myself staring at their work, feeling like a helpless child who is trapped in some odd dream, unable to discern reality from fiction.