Akiko Takizawa @ Unseen: “Nocturnal Grievance”

Knowing that she was about to die, my aunt said that she would have less regret about leaving this world if she knew she could still send letters.


There was a certain burden of hearing the small metal chain swing against the glass casing of the light bulb’s pulsating dissonance. Clink, clink, the third click a queer noise, then clink clink. I sit faintly feeling, not so much listening to the wind howl through the flowering tendrils of my obsidian black hair, an uncomfortable lashing across my eyes on occasion that seems to tether itself to that slow clink…clink…like a hidden and previously dormant perverse master at whose instruction whips my eyes like a phonograph receding and striking the edge of the records inner frame again and again; its the preferred method of resolved torture on nights like this. Its as if within this movement, a confession is solemnly asking to be extracted from my being under a slow and burdening interrogation from the cold wood floor boards of the porch and that bulb encased in a sea of murkiness, gloom to obvious a word for a combined condition of place and pathos.

The mist dared to hang heavily fecund with an outstretched grain as we carried the coffin through the pine. Though it was only early in the afternoon, the thick opacity of the mist clung to our clothes, enveloped our sight, and we nervously suspected rain or perhaps a tremor from the sleeping cone of the volcano as the men strained with her coffin on their shoulders, heads bobbing like horses with a cart full of pungent autumn hay, overloaded. The pieces of straw falling to the flat land in some discontinued European field. The crematorium awaited miles away and the immersive black void confronted our lumbering feet and we continually pushed the rock away with a tearing scratchy sound under our flat sandals…that solitary bulb still afflicting the veil of our recurring nocturnal grievance. Develop, stockpile, and test the grain.


1_Naked Light (Custom)

Naked Light

3_Looking through the pamapas grass (Custom)

Looking through the pamapas grass

5_Man in the Night field  (Custom)

Man in the Night field  


Najima is the name of the area where my grandparent’s house was in Japan, and the photos were taken just a few days before the house was demolished, after my grandparent’s death.

We buried her, like we buried him, like they will bury me. The priest will remove his collar at the end of the day. There will be a slight yellow stain on its crisp edges, moisture will continue in the body of the living during the night and during day. The perspiration wells upon the pickled and confused brows and necks of the living. It is the specter of our passing, the teeth in the ash, the body in the basement, the embodiment and complete surrender of our collective unproductive and impatient selves. Nothing is revolutionary, we simply revolve around a dead star whose light can only brighten half of the rock we inhabit at once. The deadening star, like the disaffected grain of that tethering mist and the exudation of bodily fluid on his master’s starched collar…is all so limitless and filled with such a condemning void at the same time.

Akiko Takizawa’s grainy and brooding monochromatic images in large measure are still in my retina, a sense of pathos bordering on the foreboding. Though likely unintentional, and with a nod to the tradition of photography in post-war Japan, the anxiety resides in me like a quiet crepuscular arc. I feel a sea on internal anxieties and a sublimated opportunity to ruminate through the texture of the image. The grain expands and contracts from her collotypes and I cogitate over an inheritable pondering of memory, of ash, and of finality. It is not as fragile as one would expect and it is not negative, quite the contrary, it is full of life depending on the position of which you choose to “read” the work. The vanity of being close to legitimate death in one’s life construes an innumerable confluence of possibilities for one’s attempts at living.



Akiko Takizawa is a Japanese photographer living in London. In 2014, she won the coveted Prix HSBC pour la Photographie. Her work is autobiographical, but also plays on performance and is enhanced by working in the collotype process.

(All rights reserved. Text @ Brad Feuerhelm and ASX. Images @ Akiko Takizawa.)

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