In 2011 Jörgen Axelvall moved to Tokyo after living in NYC for 15 years. The work in “Go To Become” is Axelvall’s expression of his feelings as a newcomer to Japan. It is in every aspect biographical. The oxymoronic combination of feeling excluded and lonely on the crowded streets of Tokyo led Axelvall to seek out desolate and quiet environments. These places soon became his personal sanctuaries where he would find refuge and peace of mind from the hustle of the city, often in the middle of night. Several of these photographs earned Axelvall the New Exposure Award from US Vogue and Bottega Veneta in 2013. When asked by the jury for a brief description Axelvall said the following:
“I live in a big city the biggest in the world by some measure. I’m a foreigner here, at times I feel trapped, alienated and lonely amongst the millions of people calling this home. These images were all photographed in central Tokyo not far from my home in Shibuya at the sanctuaries where I find peace”
A lover of poetry and literature, Axelvall later teamed up with Mutsuo Takahashi, one of the most prominent and prolific poets in contemporary Japan. With more than 130 books published, including dozens of poetry collections, Takahashi’s poetry successfully spans all the major Japanese poetic forms. After listening to Axelvall’s story and looking at the photographs, Takahashi wrote the poem “Go To Become” [なりに行く in Japanese] specially for this project.