How to Make a Pearl

2000–01, Gelatin silver print on fiber base paper, each 210 x 150 cm (and 60 x 50cm), 52 works

Inserting a lass marble into her camera, Onodera photographed groups of people on the street during the day. The marble disperses the light, creating shadows in the photographs and creating scenes in which an eerie white sphere seems to be floating above people gathered in the darkness. Through the glass marble, which transforms an actual street scene into a mysterious illusion, we are made aware of the “black box”—that camera—that intercedes between the photographer and the subjects. The title refers, of course, to the way a pearl is formed when a foreign object enters a mollusk’s shell. The enlarged grain of the photos, created chemically during the development process, becomes the material of these giant, two-meter photographs, powerfully lifting the people out of the surrounding darkness in sharp relief.