【Column】The City I Don’t Know / Kazuhei Kimura

2024.02.23 BLOG

I am currently flying over Turkey, writing this article with a strong feeling of sleepiness and a desire to watch the child in front of me.

I fell asleep almost as soon as I sat down in my seat and was just woken up by the person next to me getting up to go to the bathroom. I looked at the monitor on my seat and saw that the airplane symbol had moved forward about 3 centimeters.

I was assigned to go to Paris and Brussels for a week. If left unattended, I might consider the week a dream, so I'll try to write about it briefly.

I was so nervous about my first visit to Europe that I started my preparations quite early. Maybe that is why I had everything I needed this time. I'm usually the kind of person who forgets to bring something. On the outbound flight, I chose a window seat against the advice of others because I wanted to see the window view. As a result, I spent the 13-hour flight without getting out of my seat once, but it was a great time thanks to the in-flight "yoga while sitting" video and the awesome sunrise I saw over Greenland.

I took four cameras on this trip. There were two 35mm film cameras, a manual half-frame camera, and a GR. After much deliberation, I decided not to bring my DSLR. I think it was the GR that allowed me to make that decision.

Since I was free for the first two days in Paris, I just walked around the city. For someone like me who rarely takes pictures during my walks, I shot a relatively large number. Was it the cityscape that made me do it, or was it just the excitement? It was probably both.

I was able to take snapshots comfortably in this city where people are not so interested in others in a good sense. But the weather wasn't great the first two days and, don't get me wrong, I quickly grew tired of the unchanging scenery and light, and as time went on I took my camera out less and less. I realized for the first time that I loved Tokyo's dizzying scenery and the fleeting moments of light between buildings.

I used my free time to visit galleries and museums. Mark Rothko, Mike Kelley, Qiu Shihua, and Tom Sachs were all very good, but Edith DeKindt at the Pinault Collection blew me away and I was very glad I came to see her work. The architecture by Tadao Ando was also so good that I gave up some of the other places I had planned to visit to enjoy the view of the atrium for a few hours.

I limited myself to the Orsay as the only major museum I visited this time. I was shocked to see that all the people taking pictures with famous paintings in the background were Asian, so I quickly walked through the popular areas, but I got stuck in front of a painting by Edgar Degas. A poster of this painting had hung in my parents' living room since I was born. The overwhelming presence of the actual painting dazzled me. It was the first time I had ever felt “happy to see the actual painting”.

I can't write about the details of the assignment yet, but I had such intense days. I somehow managed to communicate in poor English at the airport security checkpoint on my way home, the biggest task of the trip, and managed to avoid having my films put through the X-ray machine. The latest equipment is supposed to have no effect on film, but I wonder what the truth is.

Looking back at the photos I took with the GR, I ponder the fragments of my trip. I wonder if these memories will fade once I arrive at Haneda and return to my normal life. Once again, I remind myself that this is what photography is for.

Kazuhei Kimura
Born in 1993 in Iwaki, Fukushima. Lives and works in Tokyo. While working in the fields of fashion, film and advertising, he continues to create works that move back and forth between his childhood experiences and his present life. Won the Judges Encouragement Prize (selected by Nozomi Himeno) at the 19th Photography 1_WALL and the Grand Prix at IMA next #6 ‘Black&White'. Major solo exhibitions include 'Ishi to momo (Counterpoint)' (Roll) in 2023 and 'Atarashii mado (The Other Side of the Window)' (Book and Sons) in 2020. Major photobooks include 'Sodemaku' and 'Todai' (both aptp) and 'Atarashii mado (The Other Side of the Window)' (Akaakasha).
Kazuhei Kimura (@kazuheikimura)

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