Ambivalent Relationship (2022 – on going)
Ambivalent Relationship is a project that aims to create a dialogue between Sukeemon Tominomori, a samurai among the forty-seven who participated in revenge for the lord in 1703 and subsequently committed seppuku, and his descendants by recreating Sukeemon's mother's kimono. He borrowed that kimono from his mother and wore it during the battle, concealing the fact that he feared death while he died worrying about his remaining family members. Their actions were glorified by the Japanese of the time, who were dissatisfied with the shogunate, and the 47 Samurai have been revered in kabuki and films in Japan as an idealised image of the righteous and honourable samurai. Photographs sewn into women's kimonos reflect his descendants and archival images, such as his beautified Kabuki ukiyo-e prints through cyanotype development. The cyanotype's distinctive blue image represents the blue death garments used by the samurai.
In contrast, the messily stitched red threads represent the blood of Sukeemon shed during his seppuku and a blood curse that runs through my family. A second-hand women's kimono, acquired in London, has been repaired disorderly where it has frayed, making the interloper aware that traditional and conservative Japanese culture is nothing more than a just illusion. The surface of the kimono is engraved with a beautiful blue sea wave pattern, and at first glance, it appears to be an ordinary kimono. However, when the inside is opened, there are 12 photographs of descendants who have always lived in the shadow of their legendary ancestor and 4 haiku poems photographs that show his hesitation about death, which is said to have been left behind by him before his death. Exaggerated legends seek justice for people, who are nothing more than murderers of descendants, some have risen to prestige, and others have been haunted by their shadows.
This work raises questions about the old-fashioned values that still persist in a Japanese society riddled with contradictions. Even though the samurai have disappeared, we are still bound by the glories of the past.