A Patchwork of Memories
36 cyanotypes on recycled paper
Artwork created during my artist residency at 3331 Arts Chiyoda in Tokyo. The work is inspired by the layers of history of the blue boro-garments from Northern Japan and based on the aestheticized view of Japan I had as a child. The series of images consists of cyanotypes made out of images photographed on my phone during my one month long exploration of Tokyo.
”As a child Japan was my dream destination. One of my favourite books was a photography book titled ’The Four Seasons of Japan’. It was the most beautiful book I knew, with soft focus images of cherry blossoms, autumn leaves and carps swimming in ponds.
I looked at the book recently and the magic of the photographs was gone, but my urge to come and stay in Japan for a longer time was still there.
During my first weeks of my artist residency I walked around Tokyo just to get an understanding of the city. I didn’t have my camera with me, but was taking notes with the camera on my phone. I took images of things that inspired and intrigued me, things I wanted to return to and photograph ”properly”. The things I photographed were often beautiful places or objects that reminded me of the idea of Japan I had as a child and soon I realised that the images stored on the memory card of my phone had become my work. These images are not only documentations of what I’ve seen; they are also a visualisation of memories from the past.
Inspired by the boro-textiles from Northern Japan I have created a new piece of work during my artist residency in Tokyo. Just like the patched up boro textiles, this is a multi-layered work. Boro is patched clothing made of multiple small cloths, made purely for practical purposes to keep warm. Boro reused fabrics over generations and so they hold the memories and traces of a family. Just like these textiles a photograph is also a keepsake of a time and place and a record of something that once was.
The images form a visual diary of my stay in Tokyo and are printed as cyanotypes, one of the oldest printing methods in photography. All the books I’ve read about Japan always mentioned how Japan is a mixture of old and new and by choosing this method of reproducing my images old and new meet: the images are shot on a phone with the latest technology, but the printing method goes back to the early days of photography. The blue colour of the cyanotype also alludes to boro that were predominantly made out of blue fabric.
To add yet another layer to the work, all the images are printed on papers left behind by other artists who have done the residency before me – like this there is a trace of the choices of previous resident artists as well as a another nod towards the craft of boro where everything was recycled and no piece of material was left unused.”
Installation view from the exhibition Pimiö – Darkroom at the Finnish Museum of Photography 21.8.2015-31.1.2016. Image by Virve Laustela/The Finnish Museum of Photography.
Article in Hämeen Sanomat 13.9.2015