Tokyo Stories
Elodie Grethen
Artist Statement
In “Tokyo Stories” Elodie Grethen explores intimacy and the possibi­lities of new encounters in Japan. In a society where every interaction is defined by etiquette, is there room for intimacy? Which form does it take? Through social media, dating apps and personal recommendations, Grethen was able to encounter Japanese people and foreigners living in Tokyo. She photographed them in their home, in their neighborhood, and sometimes in hidden love hotels. By entering their home and therefore their world, she gained their trust and started gathering stories. Stories about love, about family, about sex, about the city. These stories and secrets accompany the photographs and show the immediacy of a new environment and the freedom of new encounters. The photobook “Tokyo Stories” has been awarded as one of the most beautiful books in Austria for 2017 and has been shortlisted and exhibited in many photo-festivals in Europe.
The starting point of “Tokyo Stories” was a need to investigate and to capture the forms intimacy could take on a visual level. Through my encounters, I was able to abolish the distance between the photographer and the subject by creating a short bond with them. However, these images remained for me the products of a culture and my understanding of it. As the pandemic hit Europe, my trip to Japan — my first visit since I left in 2016 — was canceled. Soon enough, the lock down and the protective measures half the world population had to adopt isolated us from society and others. This allowed me to see my work in a new light: My experience of photographing strangers made me reconsider our longing for physical touch for closeness. Can intimacy take place from afar? How do we connect with each other without touching?
Artist Bio
Elodie Grethen (*1988), is a French artist and photographer. She lives and works in Vienna, Austria and in France. She studied photography at the Friedl Kubelka School for Artistic Photography Vienna, after which she received one of the five “Start” stipends for photography from the Federal Chancellery of Austria in 2018. Her body of work ranges from conceptual photography and performance and has been shown in Europe and Japan. This year, she was selected for the next “Junge Kunst Triennale” and also was nominated for C/O Berlin Talent Award 2020.