The title of this post is a quasi-quote from the artist and legendary street photographer Garry Winogrand. It has become my main mantra of late, not only about photographic matters, but about life in general. It is a very difficult objective to keep an open mind, especially since I think that the interpretation of experiences and resulting conceptions are very closely bound to human nature, a natural way to make us feel emotionally safer. Brands and advertising, for example, exploit this longing for familiarity and make us reach out for packaging and colours we have seen before.
In itself, there is nothing wrong with this. However, there are certain times, if not most of the time, where we should be self-aware of our preconceptions, if only to prevent us to become easy prey for stereotypes and prejudices, positive and negative. Maybe we have heard something similar several times from from different sources. Or we have heard fractions of facts and our creative mind tries filling in the gaps. The purpose of this is to help making sense of the world in one way or the other, if only temporary. Would we feel the full effect of knowing that we know nothing, we would probably go crazy.
It is in this period of thought, where an email from a friend reaches me, and I am surprised that it discusses a very similar thought that I have been having and have recently articulated in an article for the German-Japanese Society of my hometown. Many people think of Japan by imagining sushi, temples, geishas and other “typical” things. While of course these things exist here, they by no means represent Japanese culture. In fact, I think they are rather offensive as they simplify and distort reality.
In my photos I am trying to show aspects of daily Japanese life, any and all aspects I personally come across. And even though I am not trying to exclude sushi, temples and geishas, unlike others I am also not looking for them. I capture what presents itself to me, and those obvious Japanese things are just several of many, many other things that make up the puzzle of this country. I can’t say I have succeeded, but just like they say in British news when they don’t know for sure: “The Police are keeping an open mind.”
I am quoting – with permission from the author – an article written for Tibetan Review:
Shattering the Shangri-La Stereotype: Tibetans re-branded
Continue reading No preconceptions