Are we looking at the same moon ?

Are we looking at the same moon ?

Erik van der Weijde, an artist who works in the mediums of photography and self-publishing, was earlier this year on a residency at Arts Initiative Tokyo supported by the Fonds BKVB, Holland.

This interview was taken the during the first week of his stay. After the terrible disasters that happened in Japan during his stay, he decided to go back home. "It is not a nice feeling to leave Japan like this, but maybe it's the option for now. I hope I can visit Japan soon again. It is such a great country with even greater people..."


Please describe the view from your window.

An almost full moon.

What are you doing op so late, working? 

it's 8 pm. that's not so late? isn't it?

I read almost half moon as somewhere in the middle of the night so around dinnertime.What are you going to eat tonight ?

I really couldn't tell you. I don't understand a thing in the supermarket, I usually take some things and hope for the best...it was cold but tasty.

So really lost in translation. Is it a position that suits you? Did you choose to go there for this reason ?

If not, Why did you choose to go to Japan?

The Lost in Translation feeling is wonderful. I love it. I didn't know it would be that strong...well, the mean reason was I wanted to get as far out of the comfort zone as possible. I think this was the right choice. Never felt anything quite like it, at least not in the last 10 years.

What do you think the people see, if they see you wandering around there?  Can you get any notion of that?

I cannot get any notion of that. I never feel looked at; it even feels like people look through me! But I'm aware of that and I constantly look if anyone's looking at me. It's totally the opposite of Brazil, where I spend much time as well, where people look and expect to be looked at all the time.

Yes, of course, you are also abroad at home in Brazil. Do you have a camera around your neck all the time? For me, when I think of a Japanese  tourist, I see a guy with a constant flashing camera. Do you think that the photograph has gone bankrupt over there? If yes, why? If no, what are you personal associations with the roll of the photograph in relationship to Japan, please tell me a bit about your thoughts?

I do take my camera with me all the time, but i's not around my neck...i,m not that kind of a photographer. what I would like to discover here, in relation to photography, if there is any good conceptual photography. I'm sure there are many, technical impeccable, photography exhibitions here, which of course i will attend, but that's not my focus. for me a certain use of the medium is more important. so maybe, for me, photography is not bankrupt, but maybe not even fully grown up...another thing i'm interested in discovering here, would be an independent or alternative photography publishing movement. I feel the high quality japanese photo book market is dominated by the big publishers. I'm curious if anything's happening on another level.

How does the residency assist you in this search? Do they bring you in contact with the right people, do they understand you to a certain level? 

I have the feeling the assistance of the residency will be thorough, on a practical level. it has been until now, but on the other hand, it's only been a week. I have been taken care of very well. I do believe they understand me, in a practical manner though. up to now i've had only technical/practical questions and I mean, on a certain level i don't even understand myself, so...a definite conclusion shouldn't be made just yet, right?

You're right, don't jump to conclusions, you're only there a week indeed. Here's another question. Is there already a specific subject matter that you you are interested to research or work or?  Something in relation to history connected to a specific subject or thing?  Will you go to work with similar systematics you applied in earlier projects or are you going for a different approach?

Yes, I have set 3 separate lines of approach to this residency, for myself, which i could divide in time as follows: the first line of work is a more research based one; to learn about japanese (photography) publishing and to connect to people in the business. 30% of the time. The second would be, as you have very well guessed, is maybe a small project in relation to history/connected to a specific subject. but because this is no new ground for me, i don't want to spend too much time on that here...10% of the time because the third line would be to try out something totally new, not based on tokyo, but rather on the appreciation of being alone and out of the comfort zone. also 30%. does this add up to 100% no? Well, the rest of the time I want to get the feeling of Tokyo and Japan...

Is the city taking over?

Yes, I'm very sensitive to that. Once again, it's only been a bit over week since I arrived, but I do feel Tokyo making it's way in already. I do have to be careful though; I can't afford to have a new comfort zone so quickly. I need to get some work done first...I've been thinking a lot about the role of tradition in society, this week. I had never appreciated that in such a way.

Ooops, tea is ready. Green tea, that is...