Ibasyo, by Kosuke Okahara. The quest for « a physical and emotional place where a person can exist »*.

This project is something very particular in the photobook world. Ibasyo is a very thick square book (15 x 16 x 3 cm), hardcover with grey linen, containing numerous black and white photographs which topic is 6 girls who suffer from self-injury. With the book, we enter the world of the victims of self-injury through their intimacy. Photos of daily life of the girls are interspersed with texts extracted from conversations Kosuke had with the girls. The photographs are fantastic and we understand the strong complicity between the photographer and his models.

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This is a long term project and Kosuke Okahara has been asking himself how it would turn. It all started when he met a girl who talked him about her disease and suffering. In those symptoms he recognized some of previous feelings he had, due to his childhood. He began to find people who suffer this self-injury disease and started to photograph them, not really knowing where that would drive him.


It took time, but he built a strong connivance with six girls whom he also became a confidant thus therefore, they often called in case of emergency. What also came with this piece of work is the interrogation for a photographer to do a photo or not ? Sometimes it becomes very hard when a girl is cutting herself in front of him, saying that he has to let her do, otherwise it would be worse later. So he stands still and keeps taking photographs before he can take care of her to make her find some peace. This is something I don’t know how I would deal with. Well… I won’t tell you the story of each girl, you’ll have to read the book.

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Part of his intentions were, with the help of photography, to restore the self esteem of the girls. And, in fact, this was one of the reason for them to be part of this project : they wanted to discover how other people would perceive them. Kosuke showed them prints but he wanted to do more and let the wide world know the stories. Then came the idea of a book which is the most wonderful part of this project.

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For us photobook collectors, we sometimes reach to a high fetichism level when it comes to books. What is great with this one is that it cannot be bought neither possessed. Kosuke Okahara made 6 copies of the book and each of them can be borrowed for a time, then sent to someone else. Each book is dedicated to one of the 6 girls, and, at the end of the travel, it will be given to the dedicated girl. My copy is the book for Yuka, and I am incredibly happy to be the first temporary home for it. The book is made for an half of blank pages, in which Kosuke asks every borrower to write some words. That can be feelings about the photos, or a message to the girl. The purpose is to show each girls that their lives are important, and their stories now known by a lot of people all around the world. After that, each borrower will be given instructions to send the book to the following one. Each step is updated on Kosuke’s blog.

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Self-injury is something I have heard about, but never reached that level of knowledge, and therefore involvment. I have to thank you for that, Kosuke ! I may be a little bit sad when the book will go, but I’ll be richer from this sharing experience.

Here is the beginning of what I wrote in the book :

« Dear Yuka,

With the help of Kosuke, and with your participation, I know a bit of your life. I have entered your intimacy and I think it would be fair to let you know a bit of my life so we can start to know each other. My life is no more, neither less, important than yours, so please let me introduce myself… »

Well, if you want to read more, you’ll have to borrow Yuka’s book !

More info : http://ibasyobook.com/

All images copyright Kosuke Okahara

* extract from introduction by Kosuke Okahara

4 Comments on “Ibasyo, by Kosuke Okahara. The quest for « a physical and emotional place where a person can exist »*.”

  1. […] | who needs another photo blog on WordPress.com’. who needs another photo blog. Available at: https://whoneedsanotherphotoblog.wordpress.com/2014/07/24/ibasyo-by-kosuke-okahara-the-quest-for-a-p… (Accessed: 10 January 2015). Clark, T. (2015a) A Release: Stories of Self-Injury – Images | […]

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