Home Studio with Hidemi Takagi

Hidemi Takagi, photographying her family on neighborhood walks, 2020.

How have you been?

It's been very hard to work as an artist since this pandemic started. But I'm pretty happy about having this special time with my family, I feel like I'm taking advantage of it. 

 

My situation: I'm living with my family, my daughter is a middle schooler who has been adjusting to this new normal life especially "remote learning". It's been really tough for her, she has been struggling to work independently and has no friends to talk everyday like she used to. She is the only child in the household, I understand it's definitely not fun for her. She needs a lot of help for doing those daily tasks, assignments (She needs someone to watch her, because she could easily start not paying attention to school stuff, looking outside and day-dreaming). My husband is working from home which is very nice. He makes his time to help me and our daughter. At least, I'm not alone, and able to talk to someone all the time, that helps me "mentally". I lost my part time Photography jobs for this circumstance, so, basically I'm just like a housewife who is making meal plans, cooking all the time and doing some houseworks. We are living in a small 2 bedroom apartment, our daughter is studying in her room, and my husband is working in our bedroom. I'm stuck in the middle room which is the living room where both of them are walking through all the time. It's really hard to focus on working there for me. I used to have enough time to be alone everyday before. But we are lucky to have a huge backyard which is pretty nice, because we have a lot of trees and I'm growing vegetables, it attracts so many birds and bugs(!!), nobody believes we are living in a busy Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn when people only see our backyard pictures. (Nature 100%). Sometimes I am trying to work there, but it depends on the weather, it gets too windy, colder (at the beginning of pandemic) and too hot (plus I feel like I'm always cooking, haha).

 

At the beginning of quarantine, I was lost, didn't know what to do next as an artist. Because I have been doing social engagement art projects for the past 5 years. I had a plan to work with a new group of people in April, but of course it was postponed or canceled. I realized that I wouldn't do the same kind of projects until this situation gets better. I had (still have) no idea when it would happen. Back then, I just installed my installation which took 4 days to install at a group exhibition, the gallery was closed after they opened to the public for only a couple days. I was really sad and didn't really know what to start first. 

 

So. I decided to let it be at some point. I focussed on having more time with my family. We don't have a car, so we usually stay in the local area. We try to walk everyday. It can be exercise, but we feel like it was more for refreshing ourselves. It also gives us time to see something different/new and have more family talks. It's always been "something new". Believe me, there is always something fresh even though we feel like we have lived in this neighborhood for long enough to know our neighborhood well. But, there is always "something" we've never seen before. When I moved to NYC years ago, I used to take public transportation and just get off at any stop. Just walking around each area to see what's going on there. I kind of forgot about this kind of feeling for busy life in NYC, so, these walks remind me of my early days in NYC as well.

What are you working on?

I couldn't do anything for the first 2 months. (Because of loss of interest in working arts; fear of COVID-19, stuck in home, police brutality, George Floyd’s death. As my husband is Black and we have a biracial daughter. Also, my best friend who I grew up with got serious sickness at the same time, I couldn't focus on anything). I started having an idea about what to do without so much interaction with people. I realized that I could start interviewing my neighbors who I have worked with for my previous project The Bed-Stuy Social ’Photo’ Club with 6ft social distancing. I set up the camera and microphone at our stoop, just like when I did a popup Photo studio in my front-yard. It's a short interview video but it should be fun and easy to restart my art practice. Also, for years I have been thinking about working with my family, but I've never had time to do it. My daughter is 1/2 Haitian and 1/2 Japanese. I’ve always wanted to work with  multi-racial subjects. I want to capture her 2 identities as being Haitian and Japanese. So, in the meanwhile, I'm going to create some portraits of her. Since I can't work with other people easily like it used to be, why not work with my family first? (haha) I have been always taking photographs of my husband and daughter for social media, like my visual diary, it's not so hard to do, I guess(?). So, I started ordering new equipment/props for those projects, but there were no stores opened so I had to order everything online, that was the worst part so far, but I'm getting ready and have slowly started those projects. 

www.hidemitakagi.com

Instagram: @hedayme

 

Interview conducted by Klaudia Ofwona Draber.

Hidemi Takagi’s video interview with one of her neighbors, as an extension of The Bed-Stuy ’Photo’ Social Club project.
Photographed by William Bastien, 2020.

Hidemi Takagi’s video interview with one of her neighbors, as an extension of The Bed-Stuy ’Photo’ Social Club project.
Photographed by William Bastien, 2020.

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