In my series Lonely Nights in Japan I explore the themes of individuality, loneliness and anonymity amongst the people living in the metropolises of Japan.
The series was created during a solo trip through the country in 2020, a bizarre year that has already raised many questions about loneliness and social issues due to the onset of the Covid pandemic. During the trip, I felt an unwavering curiosity and fascination for the country, documenting the extraordinary architecture, bizarre nightlife and extreme contrasts that the cities have to offer.
The Golden Gai Night Scene came about during a long night as I continued to explore the Shinjuku district. The densely built, narrow street passages of Golden Gai used to be notorious for crime, prostitution and drug abuse, whereas today it brings people together at night, in many of the more than 200 pubs and karaoke bars that are located here in a dense area. The social dynamics in this area of the city are particularly fascinating, as where dozens of "love hotels" can be found not far away, an otherwise relatively reserved nation becomes an open-minded, friendly nation when it comes to nightlife.
Two anonymous figures scurrying by roam the alleyways, paying little attention to the surroundings, which are nevertheless so history-heavy. The photo raises the question of where the two people are coming from, what their destination is, what drives them to the streets at night, or even why they, like so many people in the city, pay so little attention to their surroundings.
A backyard in Osaka, Japan, mid-February 2020.
The photograph deals with the themes of individuality, loneliness and intimacy in Japan. The one-sided, repetitive façade reflects well the country's comparatively low striving for individuality. The viewer is left ignorant of what goes on behind the few luminous windows and can only puzzle over the personalities hidden behind them - much like it is on the street, where the individual's personality is often lost behind a mask of anonymity.
A lone traveller enters the stairs to Shinjuku Station after midnight.
Although people in a metropolis are by no means alone, many still make their life's journey by themselves. In Tokyo in particular, loneliness is a problem of immense proportions. In addition, the capture raises a debate on individuality. Although the people in a city often might seem like one big mass, if you look more closely, you will be able to find details and recognise the individuality of each person.
Exhibition in Berlin 2022
"Lonely Nights in Japan" was the theme of my first solo exhibition in Berlin, held from July to September 2022 at Speakeasy Berlin. The Vernissage was held on the 23th of July and included live music, more background information on the series and a Q&A session with me.
Thanks to everyone who came by!