Kewpie Bachan documents fourteen days in Japan that I shared with my Bachan (grandmother in Japanese) between May and June 2015. This trip marked the ten-year anniversary of our last visit together to her hometown in Fukuoka.
Bachan struggles with dementia, now requiring a chaperone to accompany her travels. My aunt and cousin joined her for the first two weeks, handing the baton to me for the next two, then to my other cousins and my younger brother. Since I moved to New York, I only get to spend a few days at a time with Bachan when I make trips back to California. Spending fourteen days, 24/7 with her was very different from the moments that we share in California. During our two weeks together, I witnessed how things really changed and how the roles in our relationship reversed. I became the caretaker she once was for me. But at the same time, I struggled to preserve my identity as Grandson. It was exhausting, frustrating, heartbreaking, beautiful, and hilarious.
For fourteen days I shot and accumulated as many pictures as possible. Constantly photographing led to a sort of recalibration of how I understood our relationship. I achieved a sense of peace that helped me to accept the current state of her mental health, as it is. My photographing of this experience encouraged us to relive our decayed memories from ten years ago and translate them into physical documents. These documents exist as 35mm negatives scanned as image files stored in a database located beyond the capacity of Bachan’s memory and eventually my own. Each memory is contained and preserved and will continue to define an experience that is to be shared and reimagined forever.
All works shown in Kewpie Bachan are for sale in limited editions.
Price list and high-res images are available upon request.
Please direct all inquiries to Madeleine Lowenthal.
Installation in collaboration with Madeleine Lowenthal.
Photographs by Mari Kon.