Eyes are often said to be the windows of the souls. Windows can open up to another world but they can also separate, they are barriers that tantalize. A Certain Distance is a series of images exploring my lack of personal relationships in a new city, in a country I hadn’t lived in for 12 years. Reverse culture shock, the slow dissolution of a marriage, frustration and growing resentment with myself for being completely unable to change things. Everything was so familiar, communication should have been easy but there was a disconnect somewhere... everyone was a passer by.
This was not the first time I had changed countries and entire cultures so completely. Maybe that is what made it so difficult. That feeling that I should've known... I'll never forget the day I left Sweden. The taxi ride to the airport, saying goodbye and my complete breakdown when the stewardess shut the door of the plane. It is so strange that even when things are completely broken we still try to hold on to the pieces. I told a friend once that my decision to leave Sweden was like receiving something fragile that had been broken in the mail. Like a delicate blown glass vase. All the parts were still there but there was no way to put them back together again. All those dangerously sharp shards of glass.
Leaving Japan was an entirely different situation. In hindsight I had done everything I could to sabotage the move to Canada. Albeit not entirely consciously and in the end I became the broken vase... shards that cut. I didn't realize that in trying to hold things together, in desperately averting my gaze from what was happening right in front of me, I would make it even worse. That the distance I needed to maintain the fantasy would separate me entirely from other people. It is impossible to have a connection to someone who can't connect.
I remember thinking back then that these weren't the images I wanted to take. That if I was being honest I should be taking pictures of my destroyed living room after having woken up on the floor with no memory at all, empty bottles strewn everywhere. Or, the overflowing coffee can I used as an ashtray. Life was measured in the time between cigarettes... just had to survive till the next cigarette. Even more importantly of the friendships that somehow came to be in the middle of all this. A group of people who just seemed to appear out of nowhere. Especially of one woman who despite all this stood by me. I will never really understand what she saw in me at the time. I miss her laughter.
The images in this series are in some ways equally fragmented. They were taken with everything from a cheap digital camera up to a 4X5 view camera. They were a search for subject... Toronto was definitely not Tokyo. They were also a more conscious attempt to find out what my photography is. I am endlessly fascinated by the edges of things. The borders between people and places, the boundaries we draw around ourselves. The barriers between communication between connection. Especially those that have been self imposed. They are not the whole of the story but like that imaginary broken vase, they are some of the parts I wish I could put back together.