I was introduced to Iniko an extremely talented artist by a mutual online friend. We connected over facebook messenger but didn't end up meeting for the shoot until the last 2 weeks of my time in Tokyo due to both of our busy schedules. I had so much fun shooting them, we got to talk about our mutual passions of performing arts, acting and music while exploring Hinokicho Park. I had always walked by and through this park on my way to dinner parties but I had never taken the time to truly explore this tiny slice of nature in the middle of Roppongi.
One of the things Iniko and I talked about was what intrigued them about the project. They said, "For most of my life I've navigated as a black femme and only recently realized that I am genderfluid. I wanted to be able to play with that fluidity in this shoot. Being ambiguous to people has always been something I love." I was so happy to hear that because I love using fashion and my body to play with gender. And I loved the outfit that Iniko wore because it played with different binaries like child/adult, feminine/masculine.
When asked about the portrayal of blackness in Japan Iniko stated, "Blackness in Tokyo is still thought of as a style, I think. There are shops dedicated to looking ghetto and Ive seen plenty of Japanese people with cornrows and tanned skin. However, that perception is slowly but surely changing." My eyes widened, thankfully I never saw any of the stores that sell ghetto chic because I would have had some words about the commodification of blackness in Japan. But I have seen multiple Japanese people treat my friends and I like our hair or our bodies were open for consumption. I'm happy they think the perception is slowly changing but with black face still happening in Japan on television they have a long way to go.
Check out Iniko's music on Spotify here.
See other photos from the series.
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