{ A Moving “What If”…* } Imagine Finding Me | Chino Otsuka – Photographs As Questions

Chino Otsuka, poem from the book Imagine Finding Me, published by TRACE Editions, 2006. Photo by the artist.

I ran across Chino Otsuka‘s photo series, “Imagine Finding Me” this morning and her work has been haunting me all day. Otsuka–who was born in Japan but moved to the United Kingdom at age ten–touches upon the concept behind the series in a short video interview, (which you can view here), saying:

” So this idea of mental time travel is my kind of starting  point, becoming a tourist of your own history. It’s my starting point. So each individual photograph, I take as a different scene—what if—if you bumped into yourself somewhere on the stairs, or what if you didn’t realize you just walked past yourself? “

” And they’re all [the photographs in the series] in transitional places—so like bridges, hotel rooms, train. So again, that whole thing of traveling is running through. Things are not quite past or present or somewhere in between. And I quite like to show these in between places. That has kind of reflected from my upbringing, that I’m sort of neither here nor there—and I’m not really Japanese or English—and I used to struggle a lot with that, trying to look for either of these places to be my place. But now, as you get older, you become so comfortable being in these kind of between places. And in fact, I take this as a great sort of vantage point and I can sort of play around with it.”


Having grown up across two continents, I also have felt the weight and textures of the in-between space. In fact, when I was growing up I had given myself the secret title of, “Child From The Middle of The Atlantic.” It was not always an easy title to bear, and I too struggled with being neither from here nor there. Much like Otsuka, however, I have come to embrace and grow deeply grateful for this fluidity. Otsuka brilliantly captures facets of that experience and I love the fact that each of the photographs starts as a “What If …*

I believe this sense of ‘in-betweeness’ can be felt by anyone regardless of geography. Is this something you have experienced?


Imagine Finding Me 1982 and 2005, Paris, France  | Chino Otsuka

Imagine Finding Me
1982 and 2005, Paris, France  | Chino Otsuka

Imagine Finding Me 1985 and 2005, Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China  | Chino Otsuka

Imagine Finding Me
1985 and 2005, Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China  | Chino Otsuka

Imagine Finding Me 1976 and 2005, Kamakura, Japan | Chino Otsuka

Imagine Finding Me 1976 and 2005, Kamakura, Japan | Chino Otsuka

Head over to the AGO website to view more photographs from the series. 

All images: Chino Otsuka

[ H/T: Artist Imagines Meeting Her Young Self In This Poignant Photo Series, via Design Taxi, published December 16, 2013. ]

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