Gaijin is a series of photos taken during a trip to Japan. Before this trip I had only traveled in Europe and no matter the destination I always noticed a strong resemblance to my country, Italy. For this reason I have never experienced feelings of isolation or alienation, because despite the differences of language, space, time, customs, clothing, food, the architecture and how the cities were laid out, they were often very similar to my everyday life in Italy.
For the first time, in Japan, I experienced the opposite. I felt catapulted into a parallel universe. Everything was different from what I was used to seeing every day: people related to each other in a very different manner, with much more respect and kindness, but it was also more “cold”. Everything was perfect and organized, from public transport to the security in the streets. Throughout my stay I felt like an alien, in a positive way. I do not know how many times, after walking for hours, I stopped and I realized that I had no idea where I was and where I had started. This, instead of scaring me, made me very excited, as if losing the perception of space and time, automatically erased the limits of my photographic vision, letting me go further than I had before.
Photographically speaking I have never visited a city so stimulating. Every corner was different, there were ideas everywhere and the geometry of the architecture came together beautifully with the nature and the multitude of people. Even a simple experience as a tourist was unique. I was wandering the country as a ghost looking at the lives of these people, without being able to express myself verbally with them, but also without being judged.
Except one time when I stopped some guys to ask for directions. After a few attempts they were able to understand where I wanted to go, but they didn’t speak English well enough to explain it, so they decided to accompany me by walk instead. As we were walking they were talking to each other and I realised that they were talking about me. I have often heard the word Gaijin, except I did not know the meaning.
Once I was back in Italy I searched the meaning of the word, and the result was “a foreigner”. After having developed and printed all my negatives I realized that there was no better word to describe me. Looking at these photos made it apparent that they had been taken by a foreigner, as they reflected the feeling of isolation that I had felt. The point of view of these photos is totally external, but introspective, like an old movie in black and white. So here you have it; Japan – as seen by a Gaijin.
About Riccardo Ceccato:
Riccardo Ceccato is a 27 year-old Italian photographer. He graduated in Industrial Design in 2012, following a master’s degree in photography at John Kaverdash school in Milan.
His work is a constant research for shapes, lights, situations that recall a specific mood. Through the composition he includes and excludes elements, which then continues to do in the darkroom, burning or masking as appropriate. His goal is not to show things as they are, but to select reality to transmit what he feels in that particular situation. His works are always shot on film, developed and printed by himself in his darkroom.