Thursday, January 30, 2014

Chino Otsuka: Imagine Finding Me

I was recently introduced to the remarkable photographs of Chino Otsuka. The images appear to be snapshots of mother and child, older and younger sisters, two friends, or in some cases even strangers. The reality is the photographer has seamlessly inserted her current adult self into photographs taken of Otsuka during her childhood and youth. The composited images become a poetic meditation on time, memory, and the self.

Otsuka clearly gave a lot of thought about how to match the gesture and appearance of her current and past selves. It is from those similarities and differences that the viewer begins to reflect upon the nature of the self through time: contemplating what changes and what remains constant. There should be some comfort in seeing the older self beside the younger -- armed with the knowledge that through each uncertainty or challenge she did in fact persevere, but it is hard for me not to feel somewhat melancholy looking at these pairs of temporal doppelgängers. United in the photograph, each self seems nevertheless quite alone.

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