Portfolio published in ArchivoZine 18 - The Archive, In the Age of Visual Culture.
The Path of a Million Pens
At a round-table conference at my daughter's kindergarten, we had an opportunity to introduce ourselves. But each person would simply introduce themselves by saying, "I'm (the child's name)'s mother. My child is a such-and-such type of child. Thank you very much." It felt odd to me, but I ended up giving the same kind of self-introduction. Nobody would give their names, and none spoke about themselves.
In Japan, the general practice is for a woman to receive her husband's last name when marrying. And after giving birth to a child, she begins to be referred to only as "mommy." At kindergarten, she will be known as "(the child's name)'s mommy."
I began to feel as if my own name, "Miki," had disappeared. What did all the decades of the life I had lived mean anymore? Who was I?
Searching for my true self, I pulled out a picture album from my childhood that was stashed in a cardboard box. As I began to archive these aged photos - of my grandmother in her youth, of my mother as a child, of my mother and father's wedding, of my own childhood - these various episodes began to overlap and the episodes come together and became a family history. This family history was a proof of my existence.
The title of this project, "The Path Of Million Pens," was something written on the cover of my grandmother's notebook - a journal she used to practice writing hiragana characters. My grandmother may have also been searching for herself, a self that did not end with being merely a "mother".