Photographer fakes life as elderly woman after older people refused to have picture taken

May 21, 2015

[Photo credit: © Kyoko Hamada]

Kyoko Hamada, 42, transformed herself into a fictional character called Kikuchiyo-san by applying ageing make-up and donning a grey wig – aided by hand-made body stuffing and a ‘selection of thrift-shop-assisted clothing’.

Kikuchiyo-san is a woman who lives on her own, carving out a ‘delicate and fragile existence’ in New York City.

Hamada got the idea after helping out at a group for elderly people.

‘Nobody wanted to be photographed,’ she says in a video on Kickstarter, where the Tokyo-born photographer is raising funds for a photo book.

‘They said “I’m too old for this”.

‘One day, I found this grey wig, made out of human hair, I was told, and something just made me want to try it on – and it fit me perfectly.’

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Hamada said that photographing herself as her elderly alter ego enabled her to confront ‘ageing, mortality and one’s own legacy’.

The New York-based photographer added: ‘This body of work resulted in a collection of 99 photographs that often use humour, metaphors and storytelling to represent the process of living and ageing and confronting us with the fact that everything is in a constant state of evolution – and hopes to remind us that life is a temporal experience.’

Hamada said she was part-driven to take on the project by a personal sense of loss while growing up.

‘From moving to America at the age of 15 and leaving my life behind in Japan, to my father passing away, which acted as the most poignant reminder that life does end one day,’ she explained.

Hamada, who has been a commercial photographer for the past 10 years, plans to publish a limited-edition photobook entitled ‘I Used To Be You’.

She has already raised more than half of her $10,000 goal and plans to publish the book in December.

For details of the project, and to watch a video, see the Kickstarter project page.

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errands_snow copy.web [All photo credits: © Kyoko Hamada]

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