Still Lives: Neighbors, Mimi

“I want you to remember everything you have lost.”

It was about twenty-five years ago. I still remember the time when I was playing with dolls. The figures that looked just like human beings were talking, moving, and breathing just like me, just like us. I truly believed that they were alive. However, one day, I realized I completely forgot how they are doing. They just stopped talking to me. I do not remember when this had exactly started, but I noticed they became more and more silent as I grew up, as I lost my youth. And they have never talked to me again since. To realize and admit what happened to me is quite sad. I really wanted to see the world where they live. But finally, I have found a way to see their world again with my camera.

I have been taking photographs since 2001, and it has given me amazing experiences in my life. I could see the beauty of a little flower by the road, the sorrow of a city standing by to be destroyed, and the happiness on people’s faces. Everything was new to me, even the smallest of things. These things were all hidden, or not apparent, to me before I began taking pictures. Since I made a decision to peer at the little dolls’ life with my camera, the same miracle happened again. At first glance, it did not occur to me that such little human figurines with unchanging facial expressions would have any life of their own. However, when I looked at them through the viewfinder, and as my camera moved, they started to reveal their emotions that were all once invisible. They smiled and cried, they felt happy and lonely in my camera just like we do in our reality. Their life seen through my camera was truly fascinating. My camera has worked as a bridge that connects my world to their world, and also connects reality that people believe to another reality that I believe.

I decided to further develop my invention as investigating the possibilities of the dolls’ life than just being an observer. I started intervening with their lives by inviting them into the world I live in. I would bring them what I think they would want to play with and sometimes I would take them outside to break the boundary between their reality and ours, and prior to all others, I always tell them my stories and feelings as if they are my close friends while I am documenting their narrative. They are sponges that absorb what I feel, and mirrors that reflect who I am. Now they became as representations of my emotion and my body of work. They are not just recreations of the human character but they exist as myself in the photographs I produce. I believe, they are still breathing in their world as our old memory remembers. We, who lost our youth, just do not remember the truth we once believed in.

“Still Lives: Neighbors.” 2012–.


“Still Lives: Mimi.” 2014.