Kikuchiyo-san is a fictional character. Rather than being in my comfort zone behind the camera, I am the subject facing the lens. The back and forth of Kikuchiyo-san being in her own home and out in the world and the still-lifes which are interspersed throughout bring to mind my tendency to ponder things that are right in front of me, as well as things I will never understand.
When I first tried on her gray wig, the latex make-up, and her clothes, I gazed at the mirror for a long time. My initial reaction was to chuckle, but I started feeling a little uneasy soon after. The wrinkled face staring back at me resembled my own with thirty-plus years added to it. When I smiled, she smiled back at me. When I pouted, she pouted too. It was the first time I had met her, but she was simultaneously someone I already knew quite well and someone I knew nothing about.
Unlike the feeling evoked by the painting in Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, looking at Kikuchiyo-san in the mirror caused me to feel a mixture of humility, humor and a sense of tender familiarity.
I'm not sure when my interest in aging started, though I can think of several reasons why it is now on my mind. Small losses like my favorite corner cafe being replaced by a chain drug store, and finding the first few strands of gray in my hair. Or, bigger losses like death of my father and the disaster in Japan a year ago in March. In June, Kikuchiyo-san will have been with me through four seasons; a reminder that time and life are always moving.
I have gotten used to dressing up as Kikuchiyo-san because it has been a year since I started photographing her. But I still feel uneasy imagining the one sentence Kikuchiyo-san could utter to me if I met her in a crowded train station or during a walk in the park: "I used to be you."
— Kyoko Hamada
"I brought a key (the camera), opened the door to the secret passage (the mirror), woke up my mythical archetypes, and lured them out into the world".
Nighttime photographs illuminated by the full moon reveal quiet, still spaces that vibrate with memories and subtle transformation.
and JH Engström were both born in the same remote province in Sweden, but generations apart. Together they revisited Värmland, and documented their experiences with two distinct photographic styles.
Marc Feustel writes a review of this great book.