Things that express the essence – Masaaki Oyamada

I believe that the essence of a person is defined not by his or her various life experiences or career, but by much simpler things such as what he or she thinks and why he or she chooses to live. Those are the easier parts to identify who the person is. In the last project, I made an attempt to illustrate the essences of people. What defines one individual from another in a world full of people from different racial backgrounds and cultures? With that question in mind, I tried to understand the essence of each person by visualizing it. The project was carried out in the form of interviews. The conversations I made with more than two hundred people have deepened my understanding on the concept of identity that resides within every person. However, many issues, such as the impact of religion and culture on each person, society, parents and domestic environment, remained. The project was completed by compiling a book of the visualized images of essences.

Now, for this project, I had to quickly choose a different archived subject because it was no longer possible to personally interview the man who could tell me more about the archives that I originally had chosen.

I went to the Expatriate Archive Centreto find a new subject. As I flipped through documents, my interest towards the feeling of Saudade -the word also used in the exhibition title- grew stronger once again. The browsing of archived documents, hand-drawn illustrations and collected magazines from different places has eventually triggered a feeling of nostalgia inside me. Then I suddenly realized that this feeling of nostalgia was actually directed towards the archived person. Who is she, really? What has been in her mind all these years? And in her heart? My interest for this person started to well up.

The interview with this person was realized at a later date at the archive center. She, who was elegant and very friendly, answered my questions quietly and calmly. I still remember sensing that, as I listened to her stories in person, the archived materials were coming alive, almost like new life was breathed into them by her.