To be human is to be a living being that cleans. But this does not refer to polishing to a shine either objects or our environment. If you observe a bit, you’ll understand that cleaning is an activity that establishes a comfortable balance between nature and the man-made.
Humans are the only animals that create cities and environments by arranging them to suit us. This is why the environment that has been modified by humans according to their needs is written as “人工” in Japanese, literally “human+ work/craft/ingenuity”, and translated as “man-made”. The man-made should be comfortable, but when there is a proliferation of materials that are too corrosive or erosive of nature, like plastic and concrete, people begin to long for nature. However, if we completely leave nature alone, dust and fallen leaves pile up, and plants thrive wildly. This is probably why human beings have lived with moderate acceptance, and moderate abatement, of nature.
Even when you build a house or create an outdoor space, it’s uncouth and tasteless if the manmade aspects are overbearing. Let nature take its course to some extent; don’t over-rake the leaves, or trim the greenery to the extreme. The secret of cleaning may be to discover moderate comfort: places where nature and the man-made struggle against one another, like the water’s edge, where the breaking waves wash the sandy beach.
In 2019, we went around the world photographing scenes in which people were pictured cleaning. This was before COVID-19 swept the globe. We had been wondering if the very essence of human beings lies dormant in the everyday and ordinary work of cleaning, which transcends culture and civilization. Today, when the entire world has stopped, these photos and videos make us miss our ordinary routines. No matter how technology advances in the future, people are living things, embracing a rhythm of life that perpetually resonates in the depth of the body. We can move forward heeding this natural internal rhythm.

The book "掃除 / CLEANING" has been published.
This is a 504-page photobook featuring 16 categories of cleaning activities all over the world, such as "WIPE", "SCRUB", and "REMOVE" etc.

Size: 120 x 160 mm
504 pages
Not yet available in Australia.

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