Kai Yokoyama: The day you were born, I wasn't born yet

Immersing in family memories is sometimes akin to wandering through a maze. What can be closer and clearer to you than your own immediate family? And, on the other hand, what can be more incomprehensible? "Little is known about where my grandfather was and what he did during the war in 1944-1945. He didn't tell his family anything about it. When my mother asked her father about the war, he was always angry and said: Don't ask me that." There are multiple signs scattered all over Kai Yokoyama’s series that seek to connect the present with the past in one clear and coherent picture of reality that one can rely on. And yet, it stays mysterious, vague like the initial light splashes resembling hieroglyphs or the final water surface reflecting the silhouettes of something one can only speculate on.

About the project
This is what I have to do now with my life. When this pandemic began in 2020, I lost control like people around the world. I talked with my parents more than ever and shared almost all my time with them.

I searched for photos of my family in the past. I walked where my late grandparents lived and kept taking pictures. Then I tried to connect the present and the past. It was a kind of spatiotemporal movement as if I went back to where my soul had been. There were memories full of love and sadness.

This April, my father said: "This year's cherry blossoms don't look beautiful at all." I couldn't help feeling the death from the scattered cherry blossoms. Cherry blossoms are drawn on the fighters, and the military song says, "Since we are flowers, we are doomed to fall. Let us fall magnificently for the country."

My grandfather went to the Pacific War. He came back and gave birth to the daughter who gave birth to me. I think it's a miracle. There are countless reasons why I wasn't born here.

About the photographer
Kai Yokoyama is a photographer based in Tokyo, Japan. Starting out as an architecture student at Saitama University, he switched his major to photography and completed his studies at Tokyo College of Photography. He has traveled the world photographing refugees, children with disabilities, and victims of terrorism. In recent years, having lived abroad, he has been photographing foreigners living in Japan.

Yokoyama's work has been awarded or shortlisted at KLPA(2019), PX3(2019, 2020), IPA (2020), Athens Photo Festival(2020), and he won first place in the LensCulture/Journeys series category(2020). In 2020, he participates in #ICPConcerned exhibition at ICP, Home Museum exhibition at LagosPhoto, and the online exhibition at PHmuseum. Also, he receives Carolyn Drake’s mentorship program in Magnum Photos and also Yumi Goto's one-year mentorship program in Tokyo.

Recently, he has been shortlisted for the 2020 Emerging Artist Scholarship in Lucie Foundation. He is a member of Native Agency and Diversify Photo.


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