Looking over the collection of photographs for the Untitled Showa project, I was struck by the nostalgia and authenticity of the past. There was a sense of simplicity, and an honest display of Japanese life of the past. Reflecting on my fascination with retro photographs, I couldn’t help but see parallels in photographs of my own family. Both tell a story of family history, culture and style of the times.

Mostly, I am intrigued by the influence of Western-style clothing (the suits, frill dresses and mini skirts) evidenced in both series of photos. The photos on the right depict family photos of my dad and mum with their friends, taken in Malaysia during the 1960s and 1970s. Comparing both series of photos I had selected (with the exception of the kimono and saree in two photos), it can be difficult to pinpoint the cultural specificity of the people featured in the photos nor an accurate time period. What does come across is a bygone era of simpler and nostalgic times, close friendships and distinctive clothing styles.

In a time of absolute confusion, uncertainty and sadness in a Covid-ravaged world, this project certainly harks back to a time where we yearn for the familiar, taking us down memory lane to a more comforting time.

Right: Mum and Dad in a ‘Western-style”, 60s suit, frill dress and beret with their friends during their engagement party.  右:ママとパパの婚約パーティーで、60年代の『西洋』スタイルのスーツ、フリルのドレス、ベレー帽を着たママとパパと友人たち。

Right: Mum and Dad sitting on a vintage 1960s Volkswagen-style motorcycle. 右:1960年代のフォルクスワーゲン・スタイルのヴィンテージ・バイクに座るママとパパ 。

Right: Mum out on a day at the park with her friends in classic Mary Quant, 1960s mini skirts and oval/half moon sunglasses. 右:クラシックな1960年代のメアリークアントのミニスカート、オーバル/ハーフムーンのサングラスを身につけて、友達と公園に出かけたママ。

Right: Dad wearing bell bottom pants and sporting a 1960s sideburn while Mum wears an orange saree for an event. 右:パパはベルボトムのパンツを履き、1960年代風の横ヒゲを生やし、ママはオレンジ色のサリーを着てイベントに参加。

Right: Mum and Dad at a formal dinner reception, evidenced by the white table cloth and wine glasses. 右:白いテーブルクロスとワイングラスが象徴する、フォーマルな晩餐会でのパパとママ。

Right: My sister and I with two cousins taken in early 1980s; cousin and I wearing a farm-style clothing.  右:1980年代前半に撮影された姉と私、2人のいとこ。いとこと私は農作業用の服を着ている。






I am an independent curator, cultural activist and creative producer who is passionate about advancing social change through creativity to create long-term social transformation. With many years of experience as a Creative and Communications specialist, I have led various creative activism projects using the creative arts as a catalyst for change. I devise platforms to showcase artists and changemakers who use their craft to enrich cultural identity, explore shared values and empower communities. A Chevening scholar with an MA in Cultural Studies from Goldsmiths, I have a keen interest in the exploration and study of diaspora and social movements, postcoloniality, climate justice and political art. https://about.me/kevinbathman


ーby Kevin Bathman, August 2021


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