The longer I am occupied with photography, the more tired I get tired of most of what I see. Again and again I find the iterations of the same photographic languages: photojournalism, the technically perfect American photograph, romantic images of Eastern Europe, intimate and direct photographs in grainy black and white, images of prostitutes, and of course the never ending flood of images depicting pretty young women.
Seiichi Furuya´s photographs accompany me now for long years. I am not getting tired of them, on the contrary, scanning them for my blog, researching for images on the net, I realize that I still don´t know his work and I won´t know it as long I don´t all the books he has published: all of them centered around Christine Furuya-Gössler.
When I first encountered Furuya´s work, I didn’t know about the illness and about the suicide of his wife, and actually I didn´t need this information to be drawn to his photographs.
Fuyura doesn´t mold his wife in the obligatory form men like to push on women: as an object of dreams and desire. Christine evolves as a person distinctly separate from the photographer. That signals respect. Looking at the photographs of her I realize: I don´t know her, and I won´t know her. She keeps her secret.
Photographs often create the illusion of giving answers. They, in fact, never do.
Furuya´s images put up questions, and nothing more. That is what photography is and should be: a mute mirror of reality, the only message to be read: ask yourself about what you see.
What we get to see are family snapshots and strictly composed portraits, many of them masterly and surprising in form. And: all of the images hold a high degree of intensity. We see a woman, at first still almost a girl, then, more and more: she has matured now. And though the photographer must have been close to her, I hardly ever get the impression that she opens up to the photographer in front of her. She is open to be photographed, but stays for herself.
And here questions start to spring up in my mind: How much of this is she, and what is the imprint of the photographer? And why did he photograph her this excessively?
It would be a too easy of an answer to say: because he loved her or because she was ill.
No stories, as far as I know with the little material I have, no family life. Hardly any signs of togetherness. And that’s exactly one of the strengths of Seiichi Furuya´s work: it invites to look but keeps you out.
Seiichi Furuya´s portraits of Christine open up a space that permits us to imagine them to be a couple. They were ordinary and very special, as we all are. He photographed what is closer to us and more important for us then anything else: the dear ones around us. Now we can reflect ourselves and our fates in this untold tale.