Yu Hirai

Lives and works in France

Maya - Sleeping memory

My mother was born in Kyoto in 1926 and was named “Masako” but we’ve always called her “Maya”. Even if she’s old, Maya has her own way of living the day-to-day life that resonates deeply in my heart. She values so much nature, a little food, songs, a small walk and everything that her senses allow her to experiment. My mother has always been very active in her work and in her everyday life. For many years though, she’s been living far from the unessential. However, her house is overcrowded with souvenirs. But I feel like everything she has lived is getting witted and forgotten. So it’s my job to help her ordering her stuff. Sorting is not so easy though: every object is the testimony of an old story that my mother has to live again a bit for me. Every little thing, remains of kimonos or photos from her childhood, is little by little becoming a possible start for my work on memory. Family is a strange and mysterious thing. We have lived some time together but in the end we don’t know each other so well. In my family, we’re not used to talk about ourselves. Only my mother would tell sometimes some pieces of family memories. Yet I feel it difficult to know if this information is reliable… That’s why several photos of hands are presented in this series. It’s tradition to read palms but I’m interested in the past rather than in the future. The wrinkles of my mother’s hands tell her story. If a flower symbolizes memories in the first photo of hand, the last image is about letting go, when materialism fades away to leave only the essential, the little invisible pleasures.

I’m not looking to do a biographic documentary about my family. It’s just that the family house is full of objects left by each member who leaved there. These accumulated objects during all their existence are an excuse for my creativity. They are the starting point of a piece of art in which border between real and fiction is moving. My family history is the breeding ground of my thoughts about links between humane History and intimate history.