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GREATEST: Fumiko Imano

Fumiko Imano reflects on growing up with an imaginary twin and why she wouldn’t want her to exist in real life.

PHOTOGRAPHER: FUMIKO IMANO WRITER: ORLA BRENNAN
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Stuck into stiff-papered albums and hung in rectangles on relatives’ walls, the humble family photo is seldom thought about too deeply. These swiftly shot images are, however, precious artifacts that document generations of love, loss and change. The family photo has fascinated celebrated Japanese artist Fumiko Imano for nearly her entire life, providing the central inspiration for her prolific self-portrait archive stretching back over two decades. At first glance, the artist appears to never be without her identical twin sister in these off-the-cuff images—but look again, and a faint, scissor-spliced line down every shot of the siblings will come into focus. “It’s fake,” Imano says over Zoom from her home in Hitachi, Japan. “She’s just me, mirrored.” 

Fountain, Hitachi, 2002   
Bus Stop, London, 2005   
Bath, Hitachi, 2007   
Peacock, Paris, 2021   
White Mountain, Iceland, 2021   
Eiffel Beam and Seriously, Paris, 2021   
Izumo, Japan, 2023   

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