Spreading fear and mayhem in the visual arts.

David Favrod's "Gaijin" at Spazio Cerere, Rome

by Suzanne on September 20th, 2011

From the Gaijin series by David Favrod - click to enlarge

Young photographer David Takashi Favrod was born in Kobe, Japan, the son of a Japanese mother and a Swiss father but grew up in Vionnaz, in the Swiss Valais Canton - a cultural duality that has strongly influenced his work ever since.

David says of himself that:

"For a Swiss, I am a Japanese and for a Japanese, I am a Swiss or rather a gaijin."

From the Le Tremblement Du Temps series by David Favrod - click to enlarge

Not an unproblematic - and often misunderstood - word but one so very important to Japan's understanding of itself and its relations to the rest of the world, Gaijin was chosen as the title of his solo show at Rome's Spazio Cerere which opens tomorrow evening.

Gaijin is also the title of probably his most intimate and powerful series of photographs - three of which you can see in this post (I sneaked in one picture from a different series because it's so very epic). All pictures were created in Switzerland but are full of references to Japanese culture and history so that the two countries and identities become one.

Being a Swiss living abroad and looking "back home", I very much understand the gaijin aspects of this series - the Caspar David Friedrichesque melancholy and animism in the uprooted landscape, the yearning of the changing seasons, the confinement of the tiny human between mountains and valleys, forests and moors, rivers and avalanches, the maddening impossibility of a horizon, the constant threat of the skies and the elements.

From the Gaijin series by David Favrod - click to enlarge

And from an interior perspective, there is so much psychological claustrophobia and spatial morphing in what are seemingly profane living room settings. Something that Gregory Crewdson or Estelle Hanania or even David Lynch also manage to get across. David Favrod has it too - the talent to make rooms morph so that they appear haunted, wallpapers century-old and scratched, baths overflowing and floorboards creaking.

The yōkai have arrived and are spooking about with the Toggeli.

It clearly adds to the Unheimliche that three protagonists in his Gajin series are not only wearing face paint or masks but have ropes, chains of lights and plaited hair tightly wrapped around their necks.

There is ONE thing, however, that makes the inherent uncanny of his oeuvre almost unbearable for me and that's the fact that there is this picture of his dad (?) wearing a Swiss military uniform common in the 80s which looks precisely like a picture of my dad in a Swiss uniform of exactly that period. And I don't mean they look similar, I mean they look ALIKE... o_O

Details below. Please note that this solo show will only last for 5 days, so if you're planning to attend, do it sooner than later.

From the Gaijin series by David Favrod - click to enlarge

Opening reception: Wed, Sep 21, 2011, 7 PM

On show: Sep 21 - 25, 2011

Address: Spazio Cerere, Via degli Ausoni 3, 00185 Roma, Italy, tel: +39 06 45422960, email: info@spaziocerere.it

Artist's website

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