Reny Worb gives us a glimpse behind the scenes of Japanese culture. She has photographed some two hundred homeless inhabitants and their shelters in Kyoto, the former Imperial Capital of Japan. They live on the banks of the 31-kilometer long Kamogawa River. The river traverses the city center, where the homeless congregate under the bridges. They spare no effort to build simple but stylish and functional shelters for themselves from waste materials.
When Japan hit a recession in 1990 after years of prosperity, there were no adequate financial and social mechanisms in place for those who lost their jobs. Japanese society has for centuries been organized according to strict rules in which the group takes priority over the individual. There is a strongly ingrained sense of shame: loss of face is a cardinal sin. Unemployment, in the Japanese mindset, was a slur on society. Despite a good education, the jobless salaryman would leave his house and home and move into a self-constructed cardboard box shelter. The social stigma robbed these former employees not only of their home but also of their social network.
On her travels, artist Reny Worb made the acquaintance of these homeless people. She uses photographs, drawings and video to give us an insight into their habitat.
NAI Netherlands Architecture Institute Museumpark 25 - NL-3015 CB Rotterdam