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A healing pool – Kangal fish therapy / photographic animation

Healing is never easy. It is a process of change, transformation, an acknowledgement of sickness and then a movement towards an idea of wellbeing, whether it be a conventional or unconventional definition of wellbeing.

Kangal Balıklı Kaplıca, Turkey: a tourist, riddled with a dermatitis branded incurable by western medicine, bathes in a hot spring and is miraculously cured. Diseased flesh is eaten away by the magical Balıklı fish, exposing new skin to sunlight and the nutrient-rich spring water. An epic healing process begins…

Namiko Kitaura went to Balıklı Kaplıca expecting something mystical, spiritual, magical even. Images of transcendental healing immediately sprang to mind – of diseased skin being renewed, rendered beautiful once more, schools of tiny magical fish swimming in a pool of holy water. In the end, the experience was something far more earthbound, human and humbling. Elements of healing seemed far more on the level of the psyche, a healing on an emotional landscape rather than on a physical one.

Namiko Kitaura’s images for this project are a reflection of this emotional landscape and transition. Stills of a lone featureless body, suspended in water, like a pre-birth child in amniotic fluid, as well as isolated body parts are the main mode. Images of fish are the main other featured element, a connection to the symbolic, the spiritual, the archetypal. The pieces are very realistic and raw texturally, no extensive post-production, lots of underwater footage and closeups of body parts dissociated from the body form as a whole.

Water is an external element that is symbolic of an internally felt force which cannot be captured or rationalised – emotion. Themes of submergence, of reflection and the nature of light underwater all contribute to the symbolism of water and its connection with the emotions. The figure in the photographs seems almost suspended in its own pool of emotions, with a movement that implies grace, melancholy and healing…

The project was initially meant to be a representation of health, beauty, transcendence and sensuality within the diseased, the ugly, the ostracised, the “other”. The piece eventually became more about the healing process for the individual within this context of otherness. This meaning-reversal/juxtaposition and its connection to the psyche and the emotions is an important theme in Namiko Kitaura’s photography.

Kangal, a healing pool in Turkey by Namiko Kitaura, body and fishes
Kangal, a healing pool in Turkey by Namiko Kitaura, underwater stairs
Kangal, a healing pool in Turkey by Namiko Kitaura, underwater swimming
Kangal, a healing pool in Turkey by Namiko Kitaura, bubbles
Kangal, a healing pool in Turkey by Namiko Kitaura, bubbles


All Rights Reserved Namiko Kitaura 2004 - 2017