Fumiko Imano is well-versed in the act of self-invention: if it is the human condition to forever long for the other half of ourselves – à la Plato’s Symposium – then the Japanese artist had tired of waiting. With scissors and glue, and the photographs she takes of herself on a 35mm camera, Imano’s captivating work imagines a second self – her own, fictional, twin.
The idea of fashioning a twin, or at least, a visual representation thereof, first came to her in Japan, a country she returned to after studying Fine Art at London’s Central Saint Martins. Growing up in Brazil with her Japanese parents until she was eight, the pressures to live somewhere she didn’t quite feel she belonged proved burdensome. And she was lonely. “To cheer myself up, I started to create pictures with the twins with scissors and glue,” she tells AnOther, via email. “Making these self-portraits somehow became a therapy; you know, like some people like to collect butterflies, pin them, and frame them.” It is a spirit she deems as “DIY”, though as she makes clear: “with myself instead of yourself”.
The end of last year saw her first collaboration with the Jonathan Anderson-helmed Spanish fashion house Loewe, working alongside M/M Paris and stylist Benjamin Bruno on Publication #17, a limited edition photobook of their Spring 2018 collection. (Anderson has been creating these books in limited editions of 1,200, since 2014.) In the photographs, taken outside the Maison de l’UNESCO building in Paris, Imano and twin were joined by model Saskia de Brauw in a series of milieus in the building’s grounds. An apparent play on the act of sightseeing, the trio bid battle with baguettes and brush each other’s hair.
This season, the collaboration between the photographer and Loewe continues with Publication #20 and a new model guest joining the fictional pair – Liya Kebede, who finds herself alongside Imano and twin in the building’s interior spaces. “The Autumn 2018 collection is very elegant,” she says. “This gave the twins a specific direction; to be chic and have a more serious attitude but still with a sense of humour, a bit like filmmaker Jack Tati had.” The mid-century interiors offered Imano a welcome backdrop for such a brief. “The phone booths, the stairs, the doors, everything gives the place a very strong atmosphere – it’s beautiful; you can really see it in the pictures this time around.”
If Imano once upon a time avoided collaboration – “I believed if I did [collaborate], it wasn’t going to be my work,” she says – fashion provides an outlet to work with others. “I love working with fashion. Most of my friends work in fashion, and I have been linked to fashion in some ways for a long time,” she says. “In the past I haven’t been able to collaborate with people because I was possessive of my work and I was also young. Fashion is about collaboration and now, I really enjoy collaborating with people rather than working alone.”
Besides, the twins themselves are no lone rangers – though they are occasionally mistaken as such. “I started taking portraits with my friends because somebody once said to me ‘oh the twins look so lonely. Do they not have any friends?’” she says. “I actually have a lot of amazing friends you know? Inviting other people in the twins’ world is fun!”