9.Hiiragi Ichika  Untitled 2019

Hiiragi Ichika started taking photographs after 2010, while working as a Queen at an S&M club. Her favourite piece of equipment is her Holga, a plastic, medium-format film camera that has won many devotees. Toy camera lovers know the Holga for being full of surprises, with its dodgy construction and the fact you never know what you’ve captured until your film is developed. This sense of anticipation combined with the often-poor results fuels an almost perverse compulsion among users to shoot more.

Although a digital Holga is now available (it is said to be just as bad as the film version!), Ichika[MOU1]  has stayed with film. Unlike most toy camera users, who photograph children playing in parks, girlfriends smiling with the sea in the background, or pictures that look ‘lovely’ even if poorly taken, Ichika shoots human bodies, mostly women.

She started photography after she came across an old Olympus OM-1, while sorting her late father’s belongings. “I bought some film to see if I could use it,” she says. “I took some random shots, and they looked good.”

“Then I saw some Holgas on sale at a Village Vanguard store, so I bought one. There were also some Holga photo books, but they only showed pictures of children and other boring stuff. I thought it would be more fun to take nudes, and I’ve been using it ever since.

“The Holga doesn’t work the way I want it to, and film is expensive and you can only take 12 shots per roll,” she says. But far from being discouraged, she makes small prints of every frame she shoots. “If I get even one or two good ones, I am overjoyed and tell myself, ‘I’m a genius!’” She has no professional ambitions. “I only do it for fun. I feel very lucky if a print sells at an exhibition.” The work on show here is an image of an S&M Queen superimposed with sex toys. It is not a collage, but an accidental double exposure due to a technical failure of the Holga.