Seiichi Furuya

The more one blows on a fire trying to put it out, the larger the flame becomes.
One stops blowing. The cold blue of the flame changes to a soft red.
Why is that I tried to extinguish that warm, gentle fire?
–Seiichi Furuya, 1996


I first came across Furuya’s work earlier this year at the Tokyo Museum of Photography. It’s now the end of the year and after visiting 100+ exhibitions this year, on reflection, -Mémoires, by Seiichi Furuya really stood out. The detailed production of the books and the editing process was intriguing.

Much is covered in the following blog-post by Stacy Oborn:
the art of losing love, pt.2: seiichi furuya and christine gössler

Furuya clearly obsessively photographed Christine compulsively, looking at the case history he has marked prerequisites to obsessional neurosis. Meeting christine, who had unrequited love issues of her own before she met Furuya; added to the explosive mix. They comforted each other, and through his photography we see the changes through her struggles with mental-illness to the fatal conclusion: Suicide, (documented in the famous contact sheets).
They communicated/conducted this dysfunctional? relationship through the camera.

In this article she poses some interesting questions which would probably constitute research projects in their own right.
Oborn asks two difficult questions,

Is death the manner through which others love?
I do not understand those for whom suicide and death is a great seducer…

These are uncomfortable questions, because they reveal facets of our own psyche. To confront or read these issues is to start to deal with truth. Photographic art as therapeutic tool.

it is that his photographs are both an image of a wound and its excision, that they are a compulsive need to live with and to exorcise the presence of something the photographer does not understand, cannot ultimately help to cure and is utterly terrified of living without. what would occur were Furuya to burn his hundreds of pictures of christine, his thousands of negatives?

- Would he feel release or would it be unrecoverable loss?
-I believe, neither and both.

Let me explain,

To put this into the context of my own work, in retrospect much of my past work is subliminally a function of unrequited love. I have destroyed my work, only to find I feel no resolution. I then continue to produce work again, which does not relieve tension, but re-creates it. Perpetuating a cycle, for where there exists no comfort in the physical world. To have known love; is to know death, to truly understand that this material world of physicality we inhabit is neither the beginning; or an end in itself.
Thus, knowing death, – we can ‘see’ life. Herein lies the seduction. Black magic
Maybe this is why I find art difficult, but necessary.

[c.f. Link?: In relation to Freud; 'la petite mort' or 'the small death' ;French language]

Like the proverbial manic-depressive who refuses to take medication in the belief it will destroy their personality; I have a suspicion I believe that in letting go, I somehow allow a honesty/purity of feeling to be failed?

(A sense of failure being a driving force of the obsessive neurotic and it’s symptoms.)
Ironically artists with these personality traits tend to be those furthest from failure in the eyes of the external world.

This brings me to the indexicality function, is it something about the click of a shutter that eases pain (or sexual tension in the Freudian sense), albeit temporarily in these particular artists; or does it simply & willingly perpetuate the distance from an inevitable realisation of a truth we don’t wish to face.

Motion, and by consequence emotions… become nothing but illusion, a Zeno paradox.


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Freud, S. (1991) On Sexuality: Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality and Other Works (Penguin Freud library). Penguin Books Ltd.

Monton, E. (1980) Obsessional Neurosis: It’s causes, symptoms and treatment. 4th Edition. Roseneath Scientific Publications.

The space in between › the art of losing love, pt.2: seiichi furuya and christine g√∂ssler. 2010. the space in between › the art of losing love, pt.2: seiichi furuya and christine g√∂ssler. [ONLINE] Available at: http://bit.ly/c4H4uG [Accessed 21 December 2010]

Zeno’s paradoxes – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 2010. Zeno’s paradoxes – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. [ONLINE] Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeno’s_paradoxes. [Accessed 24 December 2010].

La petite mort – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 2010. La petite mort – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. [ONLINE] Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_petite_mort. [Accessed 24 December 2010]