Morocco changed my life. In many ways, it had changed my life as I really did enjoy working with this team. ( Thank you Joeseph Ball for this photograph and his attentive works!) What changed me the most is meeting Yuki Onodera and Aki lumi. Yuki has been the artist I admired since the 90's. When I came across her work in the exhibition space, I was taken by the quality of her work and had been so full by just looking at her works. Sometimes I was saying to myself " Yes" which is a strange thing to say when looking at another person's work. What I admire about the most in Yuki is, she is not afraid of challenging her ideas. She plays a lot with concepts and techniques and come to the final work. She isn't afraid to fail, she can recognize each work as it is and give a value to every challenge, ideas and speak about them with the same passion. When I thought of one photographer (artist) that can enrich this project that questions the potentiality of photography, there was only Yuki. Surely there are many great Japanese photographers who make great works. Yet no one will ever match up to Yuki's creative, playful and ever challenging world. I knocked on her door, afraid of being disappointed. (Ken Kitano assured me by saying that Yuki is a kind person.) When Yuki opened the door, I understood what it means to be a great artist through meeting them. I knew couple of works of Aki yet the experience of meeting him was mind blowing. I have never met an artist with such a refined spirit. They were generous, helpful and smart. Yes, they were beyond my expectation. They had given me many valuable advice, with honesty and respect. They are the least arrogant people I know. Aki and Yuki loves food and eating. They are not stiff kind of people, even they could have been as they are known artists and Yuki is considered the major photographer, recognized with many prestigious prizes. Aki loves Yuki with so much care and he is also incredible on how much he supports her work. Yuki and Aki would not be who they are today without each other. They are fun, lively, and talk and laugh a lot. This project of Morocco was not possible, if I did not meet Yuki and Aki who supported me tirelessly.
Till couple of years ago, deep inside me I felt I did not deserve to live. This is because I had to deal with violence of the mental illness of my family member. I felt always so sorry that I was born. I felt perhaps if I was not born, the mental illness may not had triggered and my family would had a "normal family life". I also felt guilty of living my life far away from my family, which I escaped. At the same time, I wished also I could have lived a family life rather than growing up majority of time without my family. yet thanks to that I made many friends and it made me who I am today. For most of my life, I made sure I did not stand out too much (even I do as I am who I am.), and acted awkward when I was in the spot light when it lasted longer than I expected and I tried to shut off from any successful recognition. Yet basic education of my mother was the opposite, probably the most important thing she taught me. It happened when I could not read the alphabet and struggling to understand why "tip" "tap" was. She was furious that I could not read such simple words yet said "To built my own personality and thinking." The only thing from that moment on wards I kept practicing is thinking. Thinking brought me to many grounds and taught me also not to believe in hype and make that my opinion. As the internet generation shapes the mentality in the world, some people in France who are not used to different kinds of people seem to have a hard time to deal with someone like me. Some people say I am "special" which in french not always positive.. It is a word that contains the double meaning. Couple of my old and close friends used to joke and still jokes "You are going to evolve and be less mean right?" and we laugh. We can laugh because it is half truth, I am nice to a real context and not in an illusion game playing with pretentious people. My friends are also in this way like me, they don't like pretentious stuff that are fake values. I try not to be a hypocrite and honest as possible to others and myself of what ever I do. I made many mistakes too and I do regret couple of things. I will most likely keep making different mistakes to learn from it. I can now finally understand the song "my way". I feel content of being who I am and stand in my place and being alive. What changed me was when I decided to get out of this deep seated melancholy of guilt and work towards the idea that I have right to exist and remain where I am. I am almost alive since half of the century and seeing loved ones passing away. I still love going to cemeteries because I find that it is the place of expressing love. Evidently each tombs are like short stories and the fact I was that person who believed I should not live, it comforted me to be in the space where I felt that there was still love even after death. In cemetery, I felt the love expressed by others who were alive most comforting and gave me a reason to live. This is why I used to photograph cemeteries and infected others photographers to photograph the same cemetery. I used to go to cemetery not to only photograph but to resource myself. I am a small cookie sometimes when it comes to these issues. I could almost say " How dare you walking into my space by seeing what I do and do the same?" but my friends who work on non-boarder movement taught me that these spaces are not specific to a person or another. Cemetery belongs to everyone who is alive like every country on the earth. It is hard to think how quickly the time passes. When I was in my 20's and 30's I did not see it as fast as today. How many people who I loved as a child, who had given me kindness are now gone. They still live inside me, they pop up in vivid imagery in color as I remember them. In fact, memories are like mobile cemetery for living. To love, to appreciate and be touched by the kindness given, good times together that existed with the loved ones who are no longer here. Daily, my life has been full of meetings that I want to remember. I have too much memories inside me that I want to keep and by attempting to trying to maintain, I recreate over and over the memories of what I liked and input into the memory. This week and last week there were remarkable meetings. I like it when people, especially children speak to me spontaneously. Clement who has a speech difficulty (which I did not know), looked into my eyes and repeated the Japanese words for the days of a week. We were saying the words together and this togetherness of the moment, voicing felt great to me. Naomi took my hand and showed me the sign language of " how are you?" and "buttering" and went back to the notes and kept teaching me new words. Hugo who seem not to be very confident about drawing spontaneously pointed out at his drawing asked me if this was art. I answered that everything you do with the intention of being art is art. The most important thing is to try. They all gave me a possibility of recognizing important things even they are still young. Children often teach me the most essential things in experiencing life. To B who appropriated my words which is fine as you written it and made my word part of you. This is much more meaningful to me. Your recognition of our commonness is what I cherish and difference is also evident in the book I received today. Your book felt as it was your testimony to life, your Yui-gon, legacy. Thank you for such a beautiful gift that you left to all of us. I will come back to it when ever I want to hear your voice. (very well written with many vocabularies which I will simply in conversation form.)
There are cyber reality in my life since last twenty years, and there are many surprises. Sometimes people taught my work to another without saying a word to me and put it on the internet. Sometimes people contact me to ask me questions, sometimes I contact them. This logo, I did not know, up till now. my face was used for the logo of 50th celebration of the school. I am very moved to learn that recently. It was a very special meeting and experience that I lived in Chatellerault at Lycée branly. As Educational residency is one of my important core as an artist, I am very touched to see it lived long time after my time. Thank you to the Lycée and the teachers, Jean- Michel and Fred as well as the director of the school.
Since I have been in north of France, I have been even more obsessed about patterns than usual. This is most likely due to the beautiful brick constructions and the structure the town planning for workers houses at the mine that enhances the sense of pattern. It feels as a musical place and it inspires me of what I can work with in the area with the people as well as my personal work. patterns, musical tones are like photography, where the images in it's self contain scale. I have been taking notes on different manholes that is fascinating me. I was interested in knowing the definition of the manhole: Manhole is an opening to a confined space. Manholes are often used as an access point for an underground public utility allowing inspection, maintenance, and system upgrades.
We often over look what we are surrounded with. I am very interested in working with the idea of pattern, construction and deconstruction, how they work with it's surrounding and how it is transformed over time.
This is the second week and the final week, I am here to organise the residency project. The remark of my short time here: First of all I am surprised of how friendly, polite and helpful, people had been when I came across the locals. In last 25 years and more, I have been to many regions in France. Up till now, this place has been the most comfortable place I have been to. Even apparently there are only 5 Chinese family in Bethune, people may look at me but not in the hostility I have felt in the past in other regions. They are just simply curious and most adults I came across treat me without putting the emphasis on difference. While my walks, old and young people says Hello and speak to me, if they see if I am having some trouble, they will come to let me know what they know, when I bought the local news papers, the shop keeper explained to me when the each news papers come out. Because of the economical condition that region had been affected by closing of mining industry, one would imagine a typical working class mentality in photographic works such as Martin Parr and recent exhibition I have seen of the Thierry Girard. In reality, I have not come across this kind of stereo typed people at all till now. In a class children did a short sketch in their local language for me but this is an entertainment for everyone that is making fun of each characters they are pretended to be. I am meeting people who are well spoken, articulated and knowledgeable. Teachers here in the area also seems to be much more devoted in education that are more than teaching the academic materials. I met a teacher who told me that she as a little girl, she was not taught to explore questions and thinking process of why they are doing things in the class, she is transmitting this process to her students. In general, I am enjoying meeting people from this region which is unknown to me and learning day by day about the place through people.
All the blah blah with some process and try outs that is part of my creative process, and life as an artist.