Akihito Yoshida – In Conversation: SIPF Open Call Artists

The Absence of Two by Akihito Yoshida (Japan)

Interviewed by Marcus Che.

In the rural town of Kunitomi in Japan, Yoshida’s grandmother and his cousin, Daiki, lived together in each other’s care since Daiki’s birth. One day, Daiki disappeared and his body was discovered in the forest a year later. He had committed suicide. Soon after, Yoshida’s grandmother passed away.

In an effort to engage in a dialogue with them through the remaining photographs, Yoshida weaves the love story of their lives.

The Absence of Two, 2011 - 2016 © Akihito Yoshida
The Absence of Two, 2011 - 2016 © Akihito Yoshida

How has photography been able to convey loss for you?

AY: Although it was not necessarily my main focus to emphasise loss in this work, I used the editing process to express and convey a feeling of loss. For example, in my book, The Absence of Two, I intentionally placed an image of my grandmother standing all alone in a field on the last page. This picture was taken after Daiki had already been gone. On previous pages there are images of the two of them living together, so as you flip through those earlier pages and see my grandmother all alone in the end, you might feel a sense of loss and loneliness more than anything.


What were your grandmother’s and your first thoughts when Daiki went missing?

AY: We thought he was alive somewhere, doing a part time job of some sort. We believed he would be back someday.


Do you think that it’s important to document the daily?

AY: For me I know by intuition it is an important act to document the daily. I string these fragments together, then edit them in order to reveal a life. I think this editing process is as important as
the documentation and recording process.

The Absence of Two, 2011 - 2016 © Akihito Yoshida

Do you believe that photography is a powerful way for us to cope with loss, especially with our loved ones?

AY: I have spoken to a person who had lost a loved one by suicide. He said it was painful to see the pictures of the loved one because it increased the feeling of loss. I had to go through this similar painful experience while making the book. I didn’t want to look at pictures of Daiki and my grandmother. I felt like those pictures were killing me. On the other hand, photography could fill a hole in our heart caused by loss or absence and it could become indispensable for living. As I mentioned earlier, during the process of making the book, I suffered tremendously. However, by transforming those pictures into a form of a book, they became a sort of healing tool for the sense of loss I once had.

The Absence of Two, 2011 - 2016 © Akihito Yoshida

Do you think loss is an important thing for us to be able to talk about openly?

AY: I think it is important. We all experience separations at certain points in our lives, it’s inevitable (whether it’s caused by death, lost love, divorce or various kinds of separation). Separation is as universal an event as birth. At the same time, if the relationship you have with the person separated from you is deeper, the more painful the sense of loss you might feel. It is not easy to overcome. Man’s heart matures through interaction with others, I think having relationships with people is the key to healing a sense of loss. I would be glad to see my work as a start for interactions and conversations amongst people.

The Absence of Two, 2011 - 2016 © Akihito Yoshida

About In Conversation : SIPF Open Call Artists

The 6th Portfolio Open Call instalment of SIPF has brought in a wide range of artists
whose themes range from human impact on our ever changing environment to tales of loss and longing. The photographers chosen for these conversations have displayed an ability to convey profound and complex emotions through their series of images, bringing us into an immersive experience that is unique to each artist. In this series of interviews, we delve deeper into why these photographers do what they do, taking a look at the intimate and personal stories behind each of their projects.

This series of interviews can be found in DECK Journal of Photography #01