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.

“I heard a psychic had predicted that the world was coming to an end this July, but nothing happened. Only our family came to an end last year. I wish the world would really come to an end,” said my brother. It was December 1999, a year after my parents’ suicides.

After the deaths of my parents, time passed by as if nothing had happened. I was forced to live on and keep up public appearances. It was painful, my insides felt like they were torn apart. I could not think deeper. ‘Accept reality’ are such logical words, but I could not help denying them. It was agonizing to remember their suicides and to be seen with pitying eyes. I found it difficult to communicate with others. I could not look into another person’s eyes. I put the family album away in the closet and I turned away. I did not want to do anything but to sleep on it.

At 22, I was living alone in the big house where the six of us had lived. Clothes were scattered all over the place and the plants were dead. Our living room, which used to be very tidy, was horribly dusty. A house is alive and changes its appearance depending on who resides there. When my family lived there together, the house provided us with a neat and safe space. But now, the house reflected my unstable mentality. Time saved me by gradually washing away the memories of my parents. I worked to earn a living, I learned new things and I photographed what lay before my eyes to move on. Just by doing these things in order to live, I remembered my parents less and less.

I wanted to make a photo series based on my parents’ suicides. One part of me was suffering in grief while another was coolly analyzing their deaths as an artist. I was convinced that I could make something amazing if I could face the love and despair in their deaths, and to express the sentiments that had struck me when I saw my father’s photo album.

When I was 23, I attended an evening photography course but I could not show my photos of the funeral altar or of the cremains to others. The photos made me emotional and it was not possible to use them as material.

I wanted to become a professional photographer. I photographed portraits for a magazine, but I could not devote myself to the job. I did it for some time, but as I was unable to find meaning in the work, I quit. It was not the kind of photography I wanted to do. The photos I shot for myself showed loneliness, and I did not want to show them to others. I had no idea what I wanted to photograph. It was becoming too painful to do anything with photography. What I needed to live on as a 26-year-old was to be an independent adult. I just wanted the happiness of having my own family. I had a feeling that things would change if I had my own family.

—- To be continued to #8.

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
>Picture of My Life Essay #6 Family Album by Junpei Ueda
His exhibition forthcoming November 3rd to 27th.
Picture of My Life has been all pre-ordered.