Eye of the Beholder by Anton Kusters
I’ve worked all day to prepare everything. Made galleries on my portable; made prints at Yodobashi Camera. Wrapped everything up nicely to present to him. When we meet at his office around 11pm, Soichiro, my brother, and I go through the whole collection of images i have made up till that point. I’m nervous as hell.
Slowly we go through every gallery, every image… Once in a while he flags one because he wants to ask a question or he wants me to make a print of it. To be presented to the subject on the photo… as a gift. This moment, the first showing of the images, the big first moment, “Are they going to like it? Will they approve?”, actually goes by without a glitch.
I also tell him i’m slowly starting to see the way i want to tell the story, so i show him my first sequenced spread layout on screen. only 20 images. I talk about my views, what i have seen, what i have learned, and that i am setting the mood in this “first chapter”. He agrees and thinks i should continue in the same way.
I’m in the front seat, riding with Soichiro in his car on his way to Shinjuku. “One cuts off one’s finger to make a point”, Soichiro explains while driving. “Usually to show the sincerity of an apology after doing something wrong.”
“You cut off a single digit of your own finger in a ceremonial way, while facing your boss, and then you present the severed finger on a folded napkin to him. It reinforces the power of your apology. It shows that you’re serious about what you’re saying.”
Somehow, i don’t feel like questioning that.
A month ago, the annual go-around was banned by law; this is effectively the last picture of this happening in the streets of Kabukicho.
About the Work
Soichiro is the lead character of the story that i’m starting to tell, about a Yakuza family in Japan. After more than 10 months of preparation, my brother and I have been granted access to start a long-term project to document the visible and hidden life of that particular family. All names used in the account above (and previous and future accounts) are fictional.
Here on burn magazine, and on my own site, i will regularly provide visual and textual accounts of our adventures.