Siblings can be incipient strangers. Even siblings sharing the same blood can become distant and turn into strangers to each other as they each grow and forge their own path in life. Sometimes, we fail to hit it off with friends and eventually lose touch. But with family, no matter how brittle the relationship, it cannot be severed. This makes things even more difficult.
With family, we take liberties to say harsh words and give unwanted advice. With family, we have the sense that our actions will mostly be permitted, and we end up creating an irreparable rift. Had this accretion of incidents caused my parents’ divorce? Since coming to see things that way, I decided to try looking at my family as strangers.
That meant not standing on formality, but taking pains to consider the other party and work around their needs. If my family were total strangers to me, how would they react if I did such and such? I asked myself these questions and endeavored to avoid unnecessary meddling.
In my honest experience, this approach does not feel as if one is truly valuing the other’s existence, and there was something unpleasantly awkward about it. However, the process made me realize that everyone in a family has the same internal conflicts and faces each other with this set of contradictions. This struggle creates each person’s image of what that family is. It was through this process that I at last began to see, for the first time, something like the start of our family.
Yoshikatsu Fujii's follow-up to his 2014 handmade book Red String, Incipient Strangers sees him creating new work visualizing the complicated relationship in his family and his conflicted feelings about it.