The first time that we open Red String, we are confronted with two snapshots. On the left, a young father, sitting on a concrete embankment by the water, gives us an inquisitive look while holding what appears to be his newborn child. On the right, a smiling mother, sitting on the same embankment by the same body of water, holding the same child.

As the snapshot aesthetic hints, these are memories. A glimpse into the past, when things were whole. But even at that early moment, the separation was evident. Already the mother and father were apart and the baby split between them.

What follows on the inside of this wonderfully constructed artist’s book is a reconstructed journal of this separation. An attempt to make whole that which was (and remains) broken. Flipping through the two sections simultaneously, we see fragments of that which was: wedding portraits, family photos, snapshots from youth and so on. In the words of the artist, Yoshikatsu Fujii, “My family will probably never meet all together again. But I can feel without a doubt that there is still proof inside each of us that we once lived together.”

As Fujii explains in the text at the back of the book, there is a Japanese legend that says predestined lovers are tied together by an invisible piece of red string, from the moment they are born. While that red string between his mother and father was apparently sundered, Fujii offers his Red String as a way to bind these losses back together.

Thus, the structure and layout of the book, combined with the fascinating mix of photos (old, new, black and white, color, abstract) blend together perfectly, offering an intimate artistic experience. It is exactly the kind of experience that is the unique province of this ever-changing, but loosely bound together thing we call the photobook.

—Alexander Strecker

Red String
Photos by Yoshikatsu Fujii
Book design by the artist, Yumi Goto and Jan Rosseel
Self-published by the author