Sapporo, the capital of Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, is one of the most livable cities in the world. In 2009, I spend 2 months there under the Japan Foundation’s JENESYS Creators’ Programme.
The city has a wide river running through it. Each day I crossed its main bridge, Horohira-bashi, to get from my apartment to the studio. One day, I happened to look down and noticed that people had scrawled graffiti messages all along the bridge. It was a striking discovery in a city that is otherwise exceptionally clean.
I took pictures of the entire length of the bridge: almost 400 individual photos. These I compiled into a book.
I asked people to write messages on the photos – but with a twist! They would write the message with their finger on my back. I would then try to write what their finger had traced, on the image of the bridge they had chosen.
Through this “game” – a pass-the-message game I remembered from childhood – I managed to have brief but meaningful moments of connection with many people in Sapporo.
Each contact was documented with Polaroid photos and presented together with the image of the bridge we had written on together. Over 60 people participated, including street dancers, 80-year-old kimono-ed ladies, students, friends, and the chef at my favorite ramen restaurant.
I recorded the addresses of each person in Sapporo who wrote messages with me. I’ve been waiting for the right time to mail them their portion of the bridge. Until now, I’ve been holding on to these memories – of the bridge that leads to the city and the people (aren’t they the same thing?) that I loved.
A year later, in May 2010, the project became an interactive solo exhibition, All Together Now: Conversations Without End. The exhibition was held in the concourse of Bangsar Village II, a popular shopping mall. You can view the drawings from that exhibition here.