The Nail That Sticks Up Will Be Hammered Down



Japanese society’s rejection of individualism in favour of conservative collectivism is summarised by the nation’s saying: the nail that sticks up will be hammered down. From this translation the series by Pascal Vossen (1983, Netherlands) finds its title, as he explores the modern era of Japanese who are refusing to live by this attitude.

Vossen’s hard flash confronts this fading collective mentality, as Japanese contemporary society undergoes Westernisation, and focus is redirected toward individual needs. The mood of Japan’s young generation is captured; their desire to create and express personal identities and to make choices about their lives that are no longer prescribed by their parents or tradition. Candid portraits express a flourishing youth culture full of individuality. The series is constructed with a balance of soft and harsh aesthetics that enables us to gain insight into a generation’s progression from pre-set gender roles. Peculiarities that fill the social landscape are documented alongside its inhabitants as Vossen creates a modern portrait of a society once held together by its united beliefs and coherent traditions; it is a distant representation from the uniformity once readily assumed in reference to Japan.