David Favrod – Gaijin

David Favrod




is a japanese word meaning ‘The Foreigner’

“For a Swiss, I am a Japanese and for a Japanese I am a Swiss or rather a gaijin.”

My name is David ‘Takashi’ Favrod. I was born on the 2nd of July 1982 in Kobe, Japan, of a Japanese mother and a Swiss father. When I was 6 months old, my parents decided to come and live in Switzerland, more precisely in Vionnaz, a little village in lower Valais. As my father had to travel for his work a lot, I was mainly brought up by my mother who taught me her principles and her culture.



When I was 18, I asked for double nationality at the Japanese embassy, but they refused, because it is only given to Japanese women who wish to obtain their husband’s nationality.

It is from this feeling of rejection and also from a desire to prove that I am as Japanese as I am Swiss that this work was created. ‘Gaijin’ is a fictional narrative, a tool for my quest for identity, where self-portraits imply an intimate and solitary relationship that I have with myself. The mirror image is frozen in a figurative alter ego that serves as an anchor point.

The aim of this work is to create ‘my own Japan’, in Switzerland, from memories of my journeys when I was small, my mother’s stories, popular and traditional culture and my grandparents war narratives.






“Gaijin” Stephan Witschi Gallery, Zurich, Switzerland

“Gaijin” Center for Contemporary Art (CCA), Santa Fe, USA

“Gaijin” La Petite Poule Noire Gallery, Paris, France


“Gaijin” John Schmid Gallery, Basel, Switzerland

“Gaijin” Crochetan Gallery, Monthey, Switzerland


“Gaijin” Aperture Foundation, New-York, USA

“Gaijin” Athens Photo Festival 2011 the Hellenic Centre for Photography, Athens, Greece (with catalogue)

“Gaijin” Fotografia Festival 2011: Motherland the Pastificio Cerere Foundation, Roma, Italy (with catalogue)

“Gaijin” Stimultania Gallery, Strasbourg, France


Winner of the ‘Project Launch Award 2013’ Center, Santa Fe, USA

Selected for the ’28e Festival International de mode et photo 2013′, Hyères, France

Hey, Hot Shot 2012, New-York, USA

Winner of the ‘Aperture Portfolio Prize 2010’, New-York, USA

Winner of the ‘Swiss Design Award 2010’, Bern, Switzerland


Related links

David Favrod



9 Responses to “David Favrod – Gaijin”

  • Went over this old country boy’s head.

  • wow… This essay also very nearly flew over my young city guy’s head, however the passion and desire throughout the work really made me hang on. Usually grandparents take a special place in our hearts but every so often some kids have grandparents who are that extra something special, they inspire with magic and love our most lonely moments as youngsters. This is clearly the case of David Favrod.

  • Puts a smile on one’s face……….

  • Personally, I’m a big fan of this kind of approach. I like the possibility of meaningfully staged photos. I find landscape important to human stories. I’m kind of intrigued by the going meta aspect of the gallery shots. On the downside, to some extent, it’s another exercise in naval gazing which is annoyingly common concern among photographers these days. I wish there were more work, or if there is that it were more often published, that melds this kind of visual/literary creativity with issues outside the artists’ childhood-related anguish. Fortunately, this transcends the more common self-indulgences (though the drowning in the bathtub self-portrait is unfortunate) by both putting it in the context of a very important historical event and by just flat out being far more creative about it than the norm.

    Gotta love the Miyazaki reference as well. Anyone interested in another take on this should check it out.

  • Jamie Maxtone-Graham

    Happy birthday, David.

    Good to see this work. Congratulations on all the excellent exposure it’s gotten……

  • Really interesting and creative. Loved it. Like turning pages of a good read….you want to finish the page to get to the next. Great work.
    I relate somewhat to your experience David. I hope you are reading this and comment. Being born outside of the U.S but raised since my early teens here (in the U.S) I feel somewhat of a split as well. Neither here nor there….strange feeling for sure.
    I also saw the Miyazaki reference in the first frame. There is a scene in “Spirited Away” with these paper cranes…. Now I know what it means.

  • Carlo, great catch. So what do you think it means? In “Spirited Away,” the Shikigami attack Haku, a character who has lost his identity, so it seems consistent with the stated theme of this essay. I love work like this in which you can find stuff like that. Work that contains multiple levels of meaning. I looked through it again half expecting to see depictions of Johnny Walker or Colonel Sanders.

  • Love it. Different kind of essay, very serious treatment of serious subject, yet I find myself in full agreement with Imants. It does put a smile on one’s face.

  • MW,

    What I meant to say is that now I know what they are. When I saw the movie I did not know what those flying papers were.
    After following your link I started researching more about shikigami.
    From what I read there are different interpretations of what shikigami actually is or where it comes from and originates from.
    One of those interpretations seemed to fit exactly how Miyazaki used it in the film.
    Yubaba is a witch and in ancient times it was believed that one who was able could use shikigami as a means to kill. Remember she has a curse put on Haku in the form of a small black animal….she has control over him for the most part…..all of that is straight out of Onmyōdō esoteric practices which was fascinating to read about and puts more things into perspective when it comes to Spirited Away.

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