In Conversation with Yukari Chikura

How important do you think context is when it comes to putting out images for an audience?
YC: I think it depends on the piece at hand. There are pictures that have a great impact on people even without words; truly beautiful pictures.

When I first started photography, I thought the best photographs were the ones which could speak without words. But after some time I started to realise that context can be extremely important. Now, ‘storytelling’ plays a very important part in my work. For example, with Fluorite Fantasia, one needs to immerse themselves in the piece’s world in order to empathise with such feelings like despair, loss of sense, and all emotions resulting from losing a loved one.

What was your relationship with your father like? Were the both of you close?
YC: I had not only biological, but also adoptive parents. When I was a child, my family couldn’t really spend time together. I feel that my ‘real’ father was a person who overcame many hardships; a person who, when he could, spend what little time he had with his family and did so with a lot of affection. My father was truly so precious.

What do you think your father would have thought of your project?
YC: My father was a true romantic who loved art and music. I am sure he would have been very pleased to see my project. He used to be an opera singer and I am sure, had he been alive, he would have probably sung the song I composed for him, called Fluorite Stone’s Song.

Fluorite Fantasia (Looking For My Father), 2015 © Yukari Chikura

Has photography been able to provide a cathartic release for you following the death of your father? Has it been able to help you cope with your loss?
YC: When I heard about my father’s disease, I thought to myself I’d rather die in his stead. And yet, there was nothing I could do—I could not possibly stop his death, no matter how much I prayed. There was a sense of hopelessness I could not shake for a very long time.

My father taught me something through his death, though: “There is a deadline to each life. It may be so that I suddenly lose my consciousness, that I suddenly lose my life tomorrow. Survive today to the fullest so that you don’t have any regrets when that happens!”

The way I chose to do that was through photography. By immersing myself in photography to the fullest, I felt that wounds in my heart gradually healed.

Did you have any initial fears when you decided to put out a project that was so personal?
YC: At first, I actually hesitated to present a personal story and I was, of course, worried. Perhaps I was afraid of truly facing my father’s death through it. However, I felt it was necessary in order to overcome this suffering and move forward.

Fluorite Fantasia (Looking For My Father), 2015 © Yukari Chikura

How has photography been able to convey that feeling of searching for your father?
YC: This is a book project and the story develops along the way through scenes, like a movie. First appears the stone—Fluorite—that I found among my father’s relics. It is from there that I am invited into its universe. In its world, I awake in an old room my father used to have. Then, the pages are developed in a way that the reader could feel as if they’re wandering around the Fluorite’s world’s mysterious scenery. This is done through new and old photographs and illustrations; looking at them, the reader is looking for my father along with me. I made this book with this idea in mind of wandering through a mysterious world with the reader.

What do these images that you have created mean to you in a personal context?
YC: I wanted to create this project not only as a personal thing, but also to fit in the frame of the universal theme of ‘losing a loved one’ which sadly everyone experiences at some point in their life. I am happy if this story can become a sort of salvation, a story to help one overcome the feeling of despair and hopelessness that come with losing a loved one.

Fluorite Fantasia (Looking For My Father), 2015 © Yukari Chikura

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.