Re-Memory (2016)

Coming from a small country such as Cambodia where most people live in a traditional way with a homogeneous culture, I respect and have learned the culture and lifestyle of people in Japan, which is a modern and developed country. When I first arrived I was surprised to find many old people walking on the street everywhere, even more than young people. I heard that nowadays more and more families live separately in Japan, and many questions came to me: how do they live on their own? What are family relationships like? Are they happy to live separately? All these questions have led to my further interest in families and relationships.

By talking to some old and young people, I found out that they were all happy living separately as they had enough finance to support themselves and they keep contact regularly with other family members, meeting up very often and gathering together.

Family is the most important part of your life, who have given you a name, love, and happiness. To see more personal side of their lives, I visited some families at home. I learned many things from different families: all of them have their own unique stories and every story has specific meaning to them. When I asked questions they told many sad and happy stories, but what we talked about was about the memories they could not forget, which would have some very important meaning to the families as well as the society and the country as a whole.

Through the memories, I wanted to bring people back to their past to look back at their previous life, to remember what was important to them, and to appreciate what they had and where they belonged to. Of cause, they can’t go back to the past but they can feel it. Family is one thing you can’t forget, and whatever happens to you, they will be your family forever.

I used red strings in my photography, and they are the symbols for destined lovers, which is a legend in Japanese culture. The red strings also refer to Senninbari, one-thousand stitch belt, which was given to soldiers on their way to war as an amulet for their safety. When I took photographs of people in this series I ask them to feel as if they are in the situation that they were talking about so that I can bring them back to their memories to catch the mood in the pictures.