Photography series with a very personal story can be a double-bladed sword. For the author, the stories may be interesting, full of drama and personal distress, while for the viewer they can quite quickly become boring and monotonous images, which one cannot make heads or tails of. On the other hand, personal stories, if they are told well and in an interesting way, allow us to venture empathically into the world of the narrator, so we sympathise with him. Thus a personal story also becomes our own.
We can certainly attribute the Japanese photographer Yoshikatsu Fujii’s book with the abovementioned definition. The book is called Red String. According to Japanese mythology, a man and a woman, who are meant to be together, are bound by a red thread around the little finger. In the case Yoshikatsu’s parents, this red string had broken and separation followed. In his book, the photographer deals with his relationship with his parents, especially now when they are no longer one family. He very skilfully uses archived family photographs, which he combines with excerpts from his parents’ letters. The work is distinguished by an excellent selection of photographs, an innovative presentation which makes the book a true work of art. The book’s cover is made of felt, stitched together by a red string, while on the cover, also sewn in with a red thread, is his parents’ wedding photograph. When we open the book, we find that we are actually looking at two booklets, each pasted on its own page. On one of them there is Yoshikatsu as a baby with his father, on the other with his mother. The space between the booklets represents the divide caused by separation. We can browse through both booklets at once or separately. The book Red String is definitely an example of how a good design can enrich the content and successfully round it off as a complete whole.