Reminders Photography Stronghold Gallery will be celebrating its 4th year anniversary. We will be proudly organizing Junpei Ueda’s solo show in upcoming November. He is one of the 2015 Photobook As Object workshop participants and he has been working on his book project “Picture of My Life” almost a year and finally it’ll be launched at the exhibition. Prior to the show, Junpei is sharing a series of his essay.
%ef%bc%96%e5%ae%b6%e6%97%8f%e3%82%a2%e3%83%ab%e3%83%8f%e3%82%99%e3%83%a0I was devastated by the unimaginable events that had happened. Unfortunately, it was not just a nightmare. No matter how painful and sad it was, no matter how much I drank and collapsed in a drunken stupor, the clock did not stop ticking.

In my struggle not to drown in desperation, I tried to capture my reality as it was and to record my emotions at that very moment. Photography was my small resistance to the events, which had brought me to the brink of death. When I photographed the funeral altar with my parents’ portraits, I came to realize that their suicides would become my artwork and that I would never stop thinking of them.

After my mother’s death, my father had put together a family album. It was one of those generic albums that had three clear pockets to a page. My father had written ‘Memories’ on the cover. In tears, he had collected the pieces of a place that he would never be able to return to.

The album starts with black and white photographs from when they were infants and continues on to the time when they first met – pure and innocent – to their wedding, their life as newlyweds, and the birth of their sons. The album is full of photographs where everyone is smiling, a real typical family album you can find anywhere, and it seemed to me to be my father’s last words and testament. My father was saying that if this happiness was no longer here, if his wife was no longer in this world, then there was no point in living.

Happy bygone days exist in the memories my family share. The family album filled with our history is proof that happiness was really once ours. The album affected me a great deal. My father had made this album when he decided to kill himself. It looked like a love letter to his wife. What saved me from committing suicide and gave me the power to stay alive were the happy memories preserved in the album. My father’s last work as an artist was completing the album and leaving me with it.

—- To be continued to #7.

English translation: Miyuki Okuyama
English proofreading: Tan Lee Kuen

Essay archives:
Picture of My Life Essay #1 My Father’s Paintings by Junpei Ueda
Picture of My Life Essay #2 My Parents by Junpei Ueda
Picture of My Life Essay #3 The Escape by Junpei Ueda
Picture of My Life Essay #4 Nightmare by Junpei Ueda
Picture of My Life Essay #5 Moment of Death by Junpei Ueda
His exhibition forthcoming November 3rd to 27th.
Picture of My Life has been all pre-ordered.