A dark night stretches over the images. In them, fireworks, masks, body-parts and painted faces hint at Bon Odori, the Obon dance at the core of these 500-year-old traditions. Through the exaltation of the collective trance, the dancers and musicians of Bon Odori celebrate the finitude of life on earth and those who are no longer here. Disposing themselves in large circles, their dancing bodies gradually open up the partition separating the world of the living and that of the dead, thanks to extensive movements repeated to the sound of drums.
“Abandonment must be a feast; laceration must be a feast. And the farewell to all that one has lost, broken, used, must be ennobled by a ceremony.”
― Chris Marker
Celebration, dance and death have long woven their threads together in Japan. Taken during the Obon festival, Rebekka Deubner's photographs capture fragments of this Buddhist celebration honouring departed ancestors and their spiritual presence amongst the living.
Far from making a documentary work, Rebekka Deubner is committed to underlining the elements of a festive, popular mysticism that is still deeply embodied in everyday Japanese life. From meditation in the family home to the rituals of festivals and consecrated places, links to the intangible naturally permeate everyday life. In Japan, objects are also given a soul, and even the debris of festivals is given a final ceremony. Death is no exception and is celebrated every year, underlining the ties to the impermanence of things.