Takaya Miou’s “Brilliance”

“Brilliance” (Hikari, 2000) concisely distills the themes and iconography that Takaya developed over the previous decade.
“Brilliance” is a mythical tale of Emperor Tian Fuandi and his consort Hai, two lovers from ancient China who rule over the Realm of the Dead. Because its inhabitants undergo spiritual purification through BDSM (bondage, domination, and sadomasochism), the extent to which this clearly compassionate couple tolerates such a hellish environment is surprising and ironic. When Hai is compelled to “descend” to the Realm of the Living, she does so with great reluctance, and Tian Fuandi mourns her absence. Ultimately, Hai “conquers life” and returns home.
Perhaps intended as an ironic inversion of the Greek myth about Orpheus and Eurydice, Takaya challenges the overly simplistic concepts of damnation and redemption that our popular culture perpetuates. To do so, she raises thought-provoking questions: How do we distinguish between cruel torture and ascetic practice? Can we become so accustomed to such a lifestyle that we learn to fear the possibility of bliss?