When I was a child, my grandmother said, “Anything with a shape will eventually be gone.” What she told me has remained in my mind to this day. Back then, I had no doubt that some things would definitely last forever. There is a Buddhist term, Shogyo Mujyo. ‘Shogyo’ means every bit of every phenomenon in this world, and ‘Mujyo’ means nothing lasts as it is; everything constantly changes. Memory has no physical form. People rely on material things when they recall their memories, but anything with a shape will eventually be gone. As a result, memories live on forever in their minds. The idea of this work came to me when I found rotten food inside a box that my mother had sent to me from my hometown. I felt so sorry when I thought of my mother’s affection toward me. The process of food rotting and losing its form is taken for granted, but I strongly felt that I wanted to express my mother’s love in some kind of form. I portrayed the rotten food as the dead soul and chose one of the Japanese card games, Hanafuda, as a dress—or Shouzoku—to send off the dead. The reason I chose ‘Hanafuda’ is that I often played it with my grandmother who actually taught me the concept of ‘Shogyo Mujyo.’ It is a tribute to my wonderful grandmother.
Shinya Masuda was born in Nagoya, Japan in 1965 and graduated from the Nagano Art School in Visual Communication Design. Formerly a chef, Masuda now works as a photographer. His project, HANAFUDA SHOUZOKU, is ongoing.