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豊穣 HOJO 2022

 In Japanese, 豊穣 (HOJO) refers to an abundance of land or a good harvest. In English, it usually is translated as “fertility.” In Japan, women have traditionally been worshiped as goddesses of HOJO. The ideal being blessed with abundant crops and many children have been associated with them. 

 This project is based on my experience with in-vitro fertilization (IVF), which I started at the age of 41. I am trying to acknowledge my existence as an outlier. Photographing myself in the dark with a spotlight on me and an exposure of about 60 seconds gave me time to take a long, hard look at myself. At times, it reminded me of the anxious moments on the doctor’s examination chair, the pain of egg retrieval, and the faint anticipation of implantation. In other moments, I felt a sense of calm. 


 The doctor uses 60 seconds to examine the patient on the examination chair. He doesn't take much time to examine each woman. There are many of them coming to the clinic, one after the other. I had hoped to be examined more carefully. On my way home from the clinic, at the market, I found deformed vegetables that had not been sold. They looked miserable, like my own inability to conceive. So I thought of photographing and handling each vegetable gently.

 For the process, I use Direct Positive Paper, and I work with a 4x5 inch camera. This method allows me to control the exposure to recreate the time of an examination at an IVF clinic.


 I also used pictures of fertilized eggs that I received from the clinic. They are rough, pixelated pictures. From them, it’s hard to tell the difference between a fertilized egg that can get pregnant and one that cannot. When you zoom in, it's just a dot. If there is a factor in the hundreds of millions of cells in my body that is preventing me from conceiving, I have to look for that outlier. I am reminded of endless infertile land.

 In this day and age, women can choose how they want to live. But sometimes they have to accept a fate that they have no control over. Even if my own body is not "fertile", I want to be proud of it because this is my life.












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