Born in Fukuoka in 1971, Akiko Takizawa has been living and working in London since 1993. She holds an MA Fine Arts from the Royal College of Art, and before this completed her BA in Fine Art at University of the West of England, Bristol. She has exhibited widely within Japan, the UK and France. Akiko was awarded at the 29th Hitotsuboten, one of the most prestigious photography competitions in Japan in 2007 and was recipient of the 19th Prix HSBC pour la Photographie in 2014.
Her practice centres around the 150-year-old Collotype printing process, which orginated in France, but has now been all but discontinued on a worldwide level. For the past few years she has worked closely with Benrido in Kyoto, Japan, the last remaining Collotype company in the world, to produce her prints.
Takizawa’s work takes in many themes, which include: home, family, a sense of loss, displacement, death and the afterlife, and what it means to live in the modern world. The majority of her work focuses on her home country, and Japanese culture and traditions feature strongly. For example, in one series, Osorezan (2012), Takizawa explores the Japanese belief that there is not a clear boundary between life and death. The images were taken in Aomori at the north end of the main Island in Japan where people flock from all over the country to ‘connect’ with lost relatives and friends. It is thought that after death, human spirits rise up into the mountains, and at Mount Osore or ‘Fear Mountain’ it is possible to speak to the deceased through a blind shaman. While queuing to see the shaman, strangers often open up to each other and share their stories, says Takizawa.
“I am constantly questioning this modern time we are living in,” Takizawa writes in an artist statement. “I was fascinated by the contrast between Japan as a fast, modern society, which is dominated by high technology and people who live in isolation, and what I have seen in Osorezan – how people secretly believe in such supernatural things, hope to get some answers for their lives, and open up to talk to strangers. By capturing such people in a specific place through photography I hope to understand the world we are living in, and where we belong.”