‘One day in 2015 I found a collection of photographs in a flea market in country Victoria. Should they be returned to someone in Japan? Or Geelong?’

Sound art by Masako Fukui; Voices Mayu Kanamori and 4You / Kwansei Gakuin University @Tsuda Lab * 福井真佐子作、サウンドアート;声 金森マユと4You関西学院大学津田ゼミ 

When Mayu told me about Untitled.Showa, my immediate reaction was perhaps predictable – what a great project that inspires imagination, involves cross cultural sleuthing, bilingual collaborative storytelling.

My next reaction was – I hope this project fails…

Nothing sinister behind this hope, just that age old problem of photography and its burden of truth.

Today, we regularly question the evidentiary power of the photo, and understand that the image’s relationship to the pictured subject is, well, complicated, and no guarantee of authenticity. If a photo is a record of anything, it’s a representation of time, that split second when the shutter closes on the subject.

But we know from the theory of general relativity that time is malleable and can be stretched, warped, even sliced.

Perhaps it’s all relative, and there is no absolute truth embedded in photographs.

Maybe photos only become meaningful in relation to the history/stories that surround them, that hold them.

These photographs in Untitled.Showa were lost/discarded by the owner. And for the finders to reimagine a new history to hold these images seems like a worthy cause.

I appreciate the desire to return them to the original owner. But I don’t want the owner’s story to trump this new history now in creation. And we know that it will, because we still hang onto the belief that photographs might possess some kind of existential truth, an essence. These photos may hold clues, but untethered from their stories, they are empty of meaning.

‘One day in 2015 I found a collection of photographs in a flea market in country Victoria. Should they be returned to someone in Japan? Or Geelong?’

Yes, sure. They should be returned to someone. But I hope they’re not.














ーby Masako Fukui September, 2021


I was born in India to Japanese parents. I spent some of my formative years in Japan, but mostly grew up in Sydney, where I now reside.  https://masakofukui.com/

日本人の両親のもと、インドで生まれました。幼少期は日本で過ごしましたが、ほとんどはシドニーで育ち、現在はシドニーに住んでいます。 https://masakofukui.com/

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