Gaijin is a Japanese word meaning ‘foreigner’.
My name is David Takashi Favrod. I was born on 2 July 1982 in Kobe, to a Japanese mother and a Swiss father.
When I was six months old, my parents decided to come and live in Switzerland, specifically in Vionnaz, a little village in lower Valais. As my father had to travel for his work a lot, I was mainly brought up by my mother, who taught me her principles and her culture.
When I was 18, I asked for dual nationality at the Japanese embassy, but they refused because it is only given to Japanese women who wish to acquire their husband’s nationality.
It is from this feeling of rejection and from a desire to prove that I am as Japanese as I am Swiss that this work was created. Gaijin is a fictional recital, a tool in my quest for identity, where self-portraits hint at the intimate and solitary relationship that I have with myself. The mirror image is frozen in a figurative alter ego that serves as an anchor point.
The aim of this work is to create ‘my own Japan’, in Switzerland, from memories of my journeys when I was small, from my mother’s stories, from popular and traditional culture and from my grandparents’ war recitals.
Omoide Poroporo is a Japanese expression meaning ‘memories like falling rain’.
I usually find it hard to talk about myself. I always stumble into the paradoxes of ‘who am l?’.
In terms of factual information, I surely appear to be the most well-informed person about myself. But as soon as I need to talk about who I am, I tend to do it through filters, selecting what I want to communicate and how I wish to do it, based on my interests and sensitivities.
So what is the objective value of the way that I picture my family and my life?
How much does it concretely relate to reality or not?
Hikari is a Japanese word meaning ‘light’.
This work represents my compulsion to build and shape my own memory. To reconstitute some facts l haven’t experienced myself, but which have unconsciously influenced me while growing up.
My grandparents witnessed the war; survivors who ultimately passed away and whose memories will soon be a part of history.
Only once did we speak about their experiences during the war. They told me how illness can take away your sisters, about the shame, the relief after the war, and the watermelons. But after that night we never talked about it again. It was as if my grandparents gave me their memories as a whisper through the air before allowing them to disappear from their minds.
I would say that I have somehow borrowed their memories. I use their stories as a source of inspiration for my own testimony.
― David Favrod