Unfortunately, this year’s trip to Germany was canceled due to COVID-19.
I never imagined that a global epidemic would spread at this point. Even though it’s only been a year, living in a foreign country can be very stimulating. I resented the invisible virus because I was looking forward to the developments that my reporting on the foreign country would lead me to.
At the end of March, we moved out of our apartment in Sendagi and into a house in Hanamigawa-ku, Chiba City, which a friend had offered me at a discount, and the situation was already unsettling. While we were waiting to see how things went, the COVID-19 spread like wildfire. The situation did not improve until autumn when the moonlight was still shining, and six months passed.
I went to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and got all the necessary documents, including an apostille. We had also found housing for our host in Germany. We also got my international license. Since I was not a tourist, I could have gotten a visa and entered Germany. However, the university where my wife was being hosted has shifted to online classes, and the conferences she was looking forward to in various countries have been canceled across the board.
I had planned to cover not only Germany but also many other places in Europe, but I gave up on that plan because of travel restrictions and other reasons.
Nevertheless, it was probably a blessing in disguise that I was able to have time to reflect on the past 20-odd years of devoting myself to the production of my work and ponder over the last six months of almost no photography shooting. My body has become like a photography addict, where if I don’t take pictures intermittently I go through withdrawal symptoms, but I’ve been able to reset it.
In these days of constant change, I wondered what I would be able to touch with the physical sensations I had developed through photography in the future.
And I felt a sense of responsibility for history. So I wanted to make my relationship with history stronger. And that was a good thing. From now on, I would like to accept that the purity of photography that I seek is intertwined with human emotions and memories of the land.
If you think about it, it is only natural that photographs should have a connection with reality. However, through the long process of production, I have come to believe that the reality that appears in the photograph is the primary factor. So for me, accepting the social and historical context of my work is a great leap forward.
In my twenties and thirties, I lived my life with the firm belief that my values would never change. However, now in my forties, I have developed a much more flexible attitude to production than I thought I would have at the time. It’s like walking haphazardly and then walking through the bushes to a hill with a great view. Maybe I’m starting to understand a little bit more about what freedom is all about. And as always, I am confident that more and more good works of art will be born.
That’s why I live in Hanamigawa-ku, Chiba City. If you can help me, please let me know. Please send me a message and I will give you my new address. I am working on my next exhibition.