Our course manual directs us to read Sharon Boothroyd’s interview with David Favrod (available on her website at: https://photoparley.wordpress.com/category/david-favrod/). In the interview Favrod explains to Boothroyd the unconscious influences that helped shape his work.
Favrod was born of a Japanese mother and Swiss father in 1982 in Japan. His work in his Hikari postmemory project stems from a conversation with his grandparents where they told him the experiences that they had encountered during World War II: “… my grandparents gave me their memories as a whisper through the air before allowing it to disappear from their minds” (Photoparley). These stories were the source of his inspiration and developed through postmemory (see my post on this for more details).
Favrod does an incredible amount of research before embarking on a project and puts in a lot of work to fully conceptualise his projects. His use of captions with the photographs take the project to a higher level. Without the explanatory text accompanying each photo as displayed on the Photoparley website, the work would be whimsical. However with the text, it becomes powerful and profound, with a poignancy that is revealed from his mixed cultural heritage. However Favrod does not provide explanations when he exhibits his work. He prefers to provide a statement at the exhibition entrance and allow the viewers to engage with the images by questioning their own cultures and histories.
I found it very interesting that he tried to find a way to represent sounds in his images by using onomatopoeias that are found in manga comics which he would paint onto the prints. Not familiar with manga comics except for seeing them around the campus occasionally, I did a quick bit of research into them. Briefly:
- Manga can be traced back to the 12th century. The first drawings were produced by a group of artists of frogs and rabbits titled Choju-giga (Scrolls of Frolicking Animals).
- Manga as it is known today came about during the US occupation of Japan between 1945 and 1952.
- In Japanese, the word “manga” refers to the making of cartoon, comics and animation, as it is composed of two kanji – “man”, meaning “whimsical or impromptu” and “ga”, meaning “pictures”.
- Outside of Japan, “manga” is used to describe comics only while “anime” describes cartoons and animated comics of many kinds. Anime can also refer to the animated version of manga.
- During the US occupation of Japan, American cartoons were introduced and these subsequently evolved and assimilated into Japanese culture, obviously with a Japanese interpretation. Astro Boy was one of the best known featuring huge eyes.
- In the post war years between 1950 and 1969, the manga readership grew and the market was divided into two main marketing genres: shōnen, aimed at boys, and shōjo, aimed at girls. In shōnen, the comics were sub-divided according to age: boys under the age of 18, young men 18 to 30 years old, known as seinen, and adult, grown men, referred to as seijin manga. Sports, action, technology and sexuality featured in these manga.
- The female comics featured themes like romance, super-heroines, historical dramas and relationships from a female point of view.
- It would seem the main attraction to manga comics is the exaggerated emotions, clean drawn lines which are done in Japanese calligraphy style.
- Children are given manga to read from a very young age and they keep on reading these comics, which are said to help shape them as human beings and influence their characters, through well narrated stories on politics, history, business, relationships, life in general and which often carry philosophical or spiritual messages as well. (On a personal note, I find this rather disconcerting that generations should have their characters formed by comic books. That just doesn’t sit well with me).
So after that little digression, it is evident that some of Favrod’s images require a certain cultural background to understand the markings on the photograph.
In an interview with GUP magazine, Favrod noted that all his series are linked. He always strives to introduce his following series in the one he is currently working on.
For me, memories are fictions, so from this idea, the balance [between autobiography and mystery] comes very naturally. … The memory is easily malleable. If I can’t describe to you what I have done yesterday in all its complexity, how can people explain memories to me from 10-25 years ago? I really like this question and walking in this thin line that separates the fiction from the reality.
I find his work a little surreal at times, but extremely thought provoking. His work definitely makes me want to linger and ask questions.
Kordic, A., Pereira, L., Elena Martinique, E. (n.d.) A Short History of Japanese Manga [online] Wide Walls. Available at: http://www.widewalls.ch/japanese-manga-comics-history/ [Accessed 5 April, 2017]
Newman, C. (2015) Looking Back and Forward Interviews #6: David Favrod [online] GUP Magazine. Available at: http://www.gupmagazine.com/articles/looking-back-and-forward-interviews-number-6-david-favrod [Accessed 5 April, 2017]