Seiichi Furuya looks back in the beginning and end of their relationship with his late spouse

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First Visit to Bologna 1978 / Last Trip to Venice 1985 could be the seventh book in a number of titles about Furuya’s spouse. In it, he revisits the very first and final holidays they will spent together before her untimely death

Between 1989 and 2010, Seiichi Furuya released a series of five books, titled Mémoires . They explored the connection with his late wife, Christine Gössler, who tragically required her own life in 1985. Composed of portraits, the books chronicle the life they produced together, focusing primarily on the day-to-day existence in Graz, Austria, where they met in 1978 and resided for six years.  

Throughout the making of Mémoires, the Japanese photographer attempts to work through the emotional fallout of his wife’s premature loss of life, hoping to gain not just a much better understanding of their relationship, but additionally of Gössler’s own thoughts and feelings during what was an extremely close, yet at times strained romantic relationship.  

In 1983, Gössler was diagnosed with schizophrenia plus, for the final two years of her life, was like “a shell with a closed lid”. Speaking last year in an job interview with Aperture , Furuya said: “This lasted until her last day in Berlin in October 1985. It was not until 2005 that I grew to become fully aware that the girl was dealing with problems in her life alone. ”

First Trip to Bologna 1978 / Last Visit to Venice 1985 is Furuya’s seventh book within this considerable body of work. It follows on from Face to Face (2020), which, for initially since the photographer began working together with his personal archive, includes photographs of him taken by her.

This release marked an important progression in the project, as Furuya showcased Gössler’s own participation in documenting their lives. “Finally, with Face to Face , Christine can be recognised as a creator herself, ” that he explains. “It’s another amount of Mémoires , with her being credited as the author of her own works. ” 

In First Day at Bologna 1978 / Last Trip to Venice 1985 , we witness yet another evolution in the project, this time in regards to the medium. All of the releases up until this time have consisted of still photographs. The latest book presents frames taken from videos shot on Super 8 film during the pair’s first and last trips abroad.

Furuya had almost entirely forgotten in regards to the initial trip. “I found this film in the attic and was very surprised when I watched the digitised film on a screen, ” that he says. “No matter exactly how many times I watched the video, I couldn’t recollect memories from the trip [to Bologna]. It surely got to the point where I doubted basically was even there with her. ” 

Acknowledging this gap in his memory, Furuya has focused on “creating a brand-new story” of the trip, reimagining this early experience in their relationship. These frames sit along with images of the couple’s final holiday to Italy, shortly before Gössler’s death. Together, they continue Furuya’s three-decades long endeavour to offer his wife “an eternal life”.

First Trip to Bologna 1978 / Last Trip to Venice 1985 is published by Chose Commune.  

Daniel Milroy Maher

Daniel Milroy Maher is really a London-based writer and editor specialising in photographic journalism. His work has been published by The New York Times, Magnum Photos, Paper Journal, GUP Magazine, and VICE, among others. He also co-founded SWIM Magazine, an annual art and photography publication.

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