The Memory of Being Here(“Koko ni iru koto no kioku”)
JAPAN / 2007 / Japanese / Color / Video / 28 min
Director, Editing: Kawabe Ryota
Photography: Kashiwada Yohei, Kawabe Ryota
Still Photography: Ogama Tomomi
Source: Kawabe Ryota
The myriad apartment complexes built during the era of rapid economic growth on the outskirts of the metropolis are now aging and waiting to be torn down. Abandoned swing sets and rusty bicycles covered with vines are a testament to the passing of time, but there is no trace of the people who once lived there. The Kibogaoka apartment complex could be anywhere or nowhere, and here, in May 1997, a boy named Kawabe Ryota suddenly vanished. The enigma of the reawakened memories and testimony of former residents regarding this tale sheds light on the boy’s absence.
[Director’s Statement] When I was a child, I once found some photographs of an unknown family in an abandoned house in my neighborhood. It seemed that, for reasons I would never know, the family had left the house, and those few photographs and scattered pieces of furniture were all that remained. In those photographs, unknown people were standing in an unknown place, looking back at me. There was no longer anyone who could speak about those photographs. Photographs that did nothing but exist, severed from meaning and value, like a blank space.
The sensation that came over me when I saw those family photographs in the abandoned house still comes back to me from time to time, when, for instance, I’m walking down the street and a vacant or cleared lot suddenly reveals itself. Someone once lived in some place, and they thought and felt certain things. Whatever happens to those facts when both those people and that place are gone?
That abandoned house has already been torn down, and nothing—no photographs, no nothing—remains of it. But, those photographs existed regardless of the fact that I discovered them, and I am sure the family in them also continues to exist regardless of me. If so, where on earth did those half-rotten photographs, clasped in my hands, exist, and what relation did they have with me? I wanted to make a film with unknown people in an unknown place, about memory that leaves no traces, in the belief that I could exchange gazes with those who were not there, like the family in the photographs that looked back at me.
Born in Tokyo in 1983, Kawabe graduated with a major in film from Tokyo Zokei University. As a student, he started making films as well as visual installations. Taking up memory as a circuit running from “here” to “elsewhere,” he has been exploring the relationship between film/image and the real world. His other films include Someone Somewhere (2004), Traces of Rain (2005), Landscape with a Family (2006), and While Being There (2009). In 2008, seeking a way for films to function as devices to generate relationships, he and some friends set up a group named &AND, which conducts a range of activities, including production, screenings, and workshops. He is now a graduate student in intermedia art at the Tokyo University of the Arts, while teaching part-time at the Tokyo College of Photography.