Marie Claire (South Africa) - - CONTENTS -

What would life be like if you were sud­denly an 80-year-old ver­sion of your­self ? That’s the ques­tion New York pho­tog­ra­pher Kyoko Hamada, 42, is try­ing to an­swer with her photo se­ries ‘I Used to Be You’. She’s trans­formed her­self into Kikuchiyo-san, liv­ing a dou­ble life as her 80-year-old al­ter ego.

Marie Claire finds out more

How did the project come about?

I was vol­un­teer­ing for an agency in New York that serves the el­derly who live alone in the city. I was hop­ing to take por­traits of some of them but most of them shied away. I was struck by the cu­ri­ous idea of how I would look at their age. So I met with a the­atri­cal make-up artist and found the per­fect wig. When I looked in the mir­ror there was this old woman star­ing back at me, par­tially look­ing fa­mil­iar, par­tially like a com­plete stranger. I had found the per­son I wanted to pho­to­graph.

How do peo­ple treat you dif­fer­ently when you're in char­ac­ter?

When I would pre­tend to have di culty open­ing a heavy door or car­ry­ing a bag, younger peo­ple would of­ten uickly come to help me. It was nice to know that New York­ers do care, even though we can come across as busy or un­help­ful.

How would you de­scribe Kikuchiyo-san as a per­son? Is she very dif­fer­ent to who you are?

She is pri­vate yet a lit­tle bolder than I am at times. She is opin­ion­ated, ui­etly funny and hum­ble and she en oys her life.

What is the next step for the project?

I m cre­at­ing a book about the pro ect for re­lease in ecem­ber. ikuchiyo-san may go for another walk around the town, too.

Kyoko Hamada as her 80-year-old al­ter ego,


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