9.0 (inside)

by Florian Ruiz



Picture 1 of 18

On March 11th 2011: Japan experienced an earthquake of a magnitude of 9.0 bringing on a tsunami which ravaged the northern coasts of the island.

9.0 [inside] shows destroyed interiors of dwellings and the intimacy of people at the time of the drama. In Japan it is not frequent to let people, outside of the inner circle, into one’s home. People live behind closed doors, a preserved refuge from the glances of others. Devastation made access to this static private life possible.

The 9.0 [inside] project is to shoot pictures of a reenactment: how the work of people brought life back to affected areas – “brought” or pretended to do so, for the rebirth shared many common points with a play, a stage-designed work. These interior photos thus illustrate the quest for an illusion of life amid mass destruction.

I used a pinhole camera (Holga-120wpc) to distort colors and shapes. Such a tool was also appropriate to capture the ghostly, unreal aesthetic of this devastated privacy.

Editor’s Note – Anil Cherukupalli
One’s home is a powerful private space. It is the space where we are most comfortable and can be ourselves, dropping the many masks we wear in public. Inviting someone to one’s home is a selective privilege. It is at home that we preserve our memories, build or break families, confront our worst fears, harbor the greatest dreams and also simply learn to deal with life’s many great lessons.

It is these private sanctuaries in Japan, devastated by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake, that Florian captures so hauntingly in this photo essay. As he mentions, Japanese homes are extremely private spaces, where only close family and friends can visit. But the earthquake uprooted these notions of privacy, laying bare to the elements and any curious eye the intimate details of a Japanese home.

Some of these details are breathtakingly sad like in the last photo where a doll stands painfully erect and half extends her hand in a forlorn way, standing amidst papers seemingly left behind in a hurry, her lifelike posture a painful reminder of the life that had coursed inside that home. Then there is the penultimate photo of a child’s room where it feels as if the occupant of the room has just stepped out of the frame and will return any moment. Only the stains on the carpet and the mud on the slide signal something out of the ordinary. Another similar photo is the one with the closed suitcase on the bed with a hat next to it, seemingly indicating that the occupant has just returned from a journey where in reality it perhaps points to the exact reverse. Perhaps this is the distortion caused by the camera used to shoot the photos at work, adding a hint of the unreal. And it is this unreality coupled with the deep silence inhabiting these spaces that in the end leaves us with a bittersweet feeling of something intimate, precious and private lost forever.

About Florian Ruiz
Florian RUIZ is a French photographer born in 1972 who has been living in Tokyo since six years. He creates photographic projects in desperate, stained and disillusioned social situations. He has collaborated with the French press on subjects regarding Japanese society. His work was included in international festival (Angkor Photography Festival, festival in Honfleur, Vendome festival, 8th international festival of Aleppo). Most recently his pictures have been published in European Photography magazine, the British Journal of Photography and Photo magazine.


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