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June 21, 2017

Japanese portraits by an anthropologist

Art & Cult

Every month a talented photographer exhibits his/her work at Werkplaats. With a complete different story every month, that will make you stop and stare. Laisa Maria (1990) just opened her exposition: You Uchi, Me Soto. Meaning ‘You Insider, Me Outsider’ in Japanese.


During an intensive stay in Japan in 2016, photographer Laisa Maria investigated the relationship between herself as Soto [outsider, untrusted, public, exclusive, uncomfortable] and the Japanese as Uchi [insider, intimate, involved, trusted, comfortable, familiar, inclusive]. By trying to get close to strangers in public space. This work is an assemblage of different meetings with different locals across Japan, investigating the powerful cultural dichotomy of self and other. During this process, the camera served like the mythical Janus – the god of beginnings, transitions, endings -, trying to understand the Uchi-Soto chemistry in Japanese public spaces.

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Anthropology and Asian love
Laisa Maria got her Master degree in Cultural Anthropology in 2015. She’s a self-taught photographer. Taking photographs is just another way of doing anthropology for her. In her study she focussed on Asian studies, because of her love and fascination for Asian culture. Before settling down in Amsterdam, Laisa Maria lived in China for a year to submerge in the Chinese culture and learn Mandarin.

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Fun side fact: Laisa Maria worked for ‘De Fotomeisjes’. An Amsterdam based young collective who specialize in club photography. In a six hours interview she had with them for her essay, they offered her a job as a professional club photographer. Without even seeing her work. It was her enthusiasm and curiosity, that got her the job.

Combination of passions
After shooting the nightlife of Amsterdam she wanted to integrate her long-lived passion for anthropology with her new found passion for photography. Lisa Maria decided to go to Japan for three months with only one plan: taking photos. She tried to come as close as she could to the Japanese so called Uchi [the insider]. With meeting the most amazing people as a result. All of them with their own story. Her photography mindset: ‘I feel that I’m only entitled to tell a story, when I truly immerse myself in the subject.’

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Come and check her work until July 6, and see with your own eyes if she succeeded to come close enough to the Uchi as a Soto.

Laisa Maria
‘You Uchi, Mi Soto’

Instagram: @laisamariaphotography

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