If you could go back in time and meet yourself as a kid, what would you say? Would you tell yourself what boys to avoid, which friends to choose, offer sober life lessons? Would you lead your younger self on a different pathway, help her skirt mistakes? Or would you simply cheer her on—perhaps join her for a stroll on the beach, help her build a snowman or share a bag of crisps?
London-based Japanese photographer Chino Otsuka has created a bittersweet collection of pictures in which she explores an imaginary meeting between her past and present selves. Inserting her current image into old photos from her childhood and adolescence, Ostuka creates seamless double self-portraits.
Here is how Otsuka explains the thinking behind her ‘Imagine Finding Me’ project: “The digital process becomes a tool, almost like a time machine, as I’m embarking on the journey to where I once belonged and at the same time becoming a tourist in my own history.”
I love Otsuka’s series partly for the same reason that I love Evelyn Hofer’s 1978 portrait of Saul Steinberg holding hands with a cutout of himself at age 8, and partly because it feels as if she has raided my family album. My own childhood travels from Japan to England in the 70s and 80s were so uncannily similar to Otsuka’s and those solitary children remind me so much of myself as an only child (see below), that I have to confess they bring both a smile and a shiver.