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Dark Mirror.

Photographs by Lisa Kanemoto.
Custom & Limited Editions, San Francisco, 1998. 104 pp., 42 duotone illustrations, 9¼x12¼".

I used to walk through life in a constant state of mourning. I did not know how to live until a special person, my photography instructor and mentor, Morrie Camhi, a great humanist, awakened me. For the first time in my life I felt understood by another human being. My wish to be known by him resulted in an outpouring of self-portraits. I wanted to tell him my story, explain my constant sadness, my awkward, inadequate behavior. Inhibited and inarticulate, I found a way through photographs, to express long-stored inner turmoil.

With these images I expose feelings of guilt and victimization. Feelings acquired from the horrors of my childhood in Germany during WW II, the loss of my beloved father on the Russian Front, the dangerous and well kept secret of my mother’s Jewish background and personal emotional crises. Creating self-images became therapy, exorcism. Many of the images portray my heartache about my son’s mental illness. The sledgehammer diagnosis of his schizophrenia, my denial of it. My way of coping with the help of alcohol as an anesthesia.." The Diagnosis " "Denial" " Anesthesia" "The Escape"

A flower bouquet sent to me on Mothers’ Day found me analyzing the children’s school pictures, searching for answers. Where did I go wrong? Did I cause the illness? "Mother’s Day." In "September 18 " I observed myself sitting in paralyzing devastation by yet another hospitalization for David. Frightened to face the mutilation of a mastectomy, I focused the lens on the ugly scar and so was finally able to accept it when the image slowly developed in the darkroom. "Mutilation."

"The Poem " was inspired by a sacred gift, an experience that affected me deeply, a love poem from a woman, an awareness that love has no boundaries.

There were the joyous times but I never had a desire to portray them, instead I was driven to explore my sorrows and torments. It gave me a sense of inner order and peace.
-Lisa Kanemoto

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