“My wife Yoko first brought Chiro home from Kasukabe when she was just a four month old kitten.”
Chiro, who for the past 22 years posed for her beloved owner and photographer Araki, passed away on March 2, 2010. In human years, she lived to be about 105 years old. “No woman has showed as much love for me as Chiro did,” says Araki of his cat, who was the apple of his eye, always there to support him especially after his wife Yoko sadly passed away before her time. Today, 20 years after the death of Yoko, Araki is once again forced to deal with the painful hardship of losing a loved one. Through his photographs, he narrates a story of how “life is a journey” composed of the everyday moments that flow between life and death.
This exhibition features photographs taken by Araki in Chiro’s final months, depicting Chiro in a range of poses- walking around the balcony, lying on the bed, staring intently at the camera. Although Chiro is captured though the lens of Araki’s camera, it is as though we can see her right in front of our eyes and hear her meowing softly, yearning for her owner’s attention or crying out her loneliness. Chiro’s vivid expressions and the landscapes in Araki’s photographs are weaved together to form a love story that gently conveys Araki’s deep affection for Chiro. Images of the sky, flowers and other scenes taken after Chiro’s death reverberate a sentimental melody that is touching to the heart.
Rat Hole Gallery will also publish the book Senchimentaru Na Tabi Haru No Tabi (Sentimental Journey, Spring Journey) in parallel with the exhibition. In 1991, Araki published Senchimentaru Na Tabi Fuyu No Tabi (Sentimental Journey, Winter Journey), which featured photographs of Araki’s final days with his wife. Now, almost 20 years later, his new publication will document the special time that he spent with Chiro leading up to her death. This is part of Araki’s farewell, and according to him, like a casket. The series of photographs in the book holds a special meaning for Araki, as it depicts the end of Chiro’s journey as well as its beginning. It is beyond doubt that Chiro, who continued to model in front of the camera up until her very last breath, was a muse for Araki like no other.
Senchimentaru Na Tabi Haru No Tabi (Sentimental Journey, Spring Journey)