I moved to Tokyo with my family in 2018. For nearly two years, life was happy. Then, without warning, my young daughter died.
Can art begin to convey a father’s grief? Over three hundred years ago, the haiku poet Raizan Konishi wrote after the loss of his own child:
I must be crazy
to not be crazy in this
crazy springtime nightmare
Springtime nightmare, indeed. Outside, the pandemic widens, and emergency orders quiet the city. Snow falls out of season, blanketing the cherry blossoms. Human contact fades. The streets near my home, once so familiar, appear alien. I wander them, point my camera, and press the shutter. The only images I seem able to capture are those that reflect my own inner state.
Joel Pulliam was born in the United States in 1974. He studied history and literature at Harvard College, then law at Harvard Law School. Until 2018, he worked at the United States Department of the Treasury. Currently, he lives in Tokyo, where his black-and-white photography of the city has been recognized by publications such as the Asahi Shimbun newspaper and Asahi Camera magazine. His long-term projects center on various areas of Tokyo that have been neglected by other photographers.