A country isn’t a tool for self-navigation, or a mirror. It’s too big and I’m too small.
These Here Are Crazy Times was first conceived, well, sometime in our print history a long time ago. With THACT, Anthem embarked on a cross-continental tour with Warpaint, drowned in a sea of thought with ANOHNI at L.A.’s Walt Disney Concert Hall, and cozied up to the Handsome Furs at the Sundance Film Festival. The revival of THACT marks a huge departure from its original conception. This is now a travel photography series, featuring shutterbugs who don’t shoot by trade. Instead, our chosen participants are recognizable names from the world of film, music and fashion. They use tools at their very fingertips to curate a collection of images to be published here. They will all report from parts of the world that they don’t call home. These here are crazy times!
For this first edition of a revitalized THACT, we approached Canadian actor Connor Jessup, who hit the big screen with small indie Closet Monster and went big on the small screen with ABC’s anthology series American Crime last year, to take on Japan. Jessup is a known camera enthusiast and also a budding filmmaker who’s currently working on his third short film, Lira’s Forest. If you would like to know more about the guy, be sure to check out our in-depth This Course interview.
Here’s an introduction provided by Jessup to set up the collection of images that you see up top:
“Japan is hard to know. I don’t pretend to have any insight. Everything I could write—about the conflict between old and new, god forbid, or the suffocating loneliness, or the beauty—is so tired it’s useless. You don’t care about my cheap ethnography. I’m not a very perceptive or disciplined person, and I’m quite forgetful. I’ve locked myself out of my apartment twice already this year, and I have to ask my friends where I keep things in my own kitchen, so you shouldn’t trust me on anything as significant as a national character.
What do I have to say about Japan, then? Why am I making you look at my pictures? Honestly, I don’t know. I don’t know why I keep going back, or why I start smiling as soon as the plane lands. The first time I travelled there, when I was sixteen, I tried to understand the intense feeling of affinity and right-ness by imagining the country as a map of myself, projected on a national scale. Maybe I could see my edges in its edges; maybe I could trace my internal geography by following its lines. That’s juvenile bullshit. A country isn’t a tool for self-navigation, or a mirror. It’s too big and I’m too small. As my mom would say: ‘Stop being so arrogant.’
The most truthful thing I can say is that, for me, Japan is my friends, one-night and one-city friends, friends in Kyushu and Tokyo and Yakushima, and a lot of laughing, and drinking, and hot dorayaki, and long train trips with lots of transfers, and sweaty shirts, and being sixteen, and being eighteen, and being twenty-two, and being alone, and Hirokazu Koreeda’s movies, and Rinko Kawauchi’s photos, and Fullmetal Alchemist, and water levels in rice paddies, and street ramen in Fukuoka, and Google Maps, and 5 p.m. music on the PA system, and lying in bed listening to toads and rain, and these pictures, too.
The photos were taken during a month-long trip with my best friend in the fall. There’s no pattern or system at work here, and no attempt at cohesion or objectivity. Please forgive my laziness.”
Jessup returns to American Crime for its highly anticipated third season on March 12.