May 20 (Sat) - June 17 (Sat), 2023
Growing up in Costa Rica I always had felt I needed to escape the small town I lived in to make it as an artist.
I moved to NY to be a photographer, but I ended up making a living in post-production for fashion retouching. Working in an office was the exact opposite of what I set out to do.
After a couple of years, my visa got denied and I was forced to leave New York. On a whim, I gathered all my savings and flew to Tokyo.
I was drawn to salarymen immediately. The way they moved through the city looked to me like an army of men in suits.
I was stunned when I learned it's frequent to see salarymen late at night sleeping on the sidewalk. When I first saw these men in suits just lying in the street, for a second, it looked like a murder scene. Like a corporate murder.
Upon asking the locals, they shrugged it off and pointed to the fact people get drunk and miss the last train. Though this seemed like a sound enough explanation, I felt there was more to the story.
I thought it was really interesting that it was common. And that it was so common that nobody found it interesting.
Somehow, I saw something of myself in them that reminded me of my work in NY… But I couldn’t quite place it because we’re so different...
At that point, I was already documenting salarymen in my street photography but I decided to take my investigation further. I wanted to get to know them better. So I shifted my focus to interviews… and not just after work, but in their homes, and in their lives.
By combining my photography/art background, and taking a leap into the unknown territory of filmmaking, I wanted to paint a broader and deeper picture of salaryman life.
I was obviously an outsider, but I was interested in what we had in common, especially how work had shaped our lives.
The first time I saw a salaryman lying on the street, I projected onto him all sorts of meanings.
As often happens with documentary films "the truth" is seldom a fixed conclusion, there are no concrete answers, and the investigation ultimately leads to a journey of self-discovery. Through documenting salarymen and pressing to understand their lived experience, I was able to find answers on a personal level. Learning from others, and investigating our differences and similarities is rich territory for dialogue. Since we spend most of our lives working, understanding the nature of and what it does to us and to our families is an important place to start. If we are unhappy with these answers we can then ask ourselves how we are willing to enact change for the better.
We are all salarymen in one way or another – that’s the truth.
A valuable lesson I learned in making this film was that when things feel dark, when we start to lose ourselves along the way, there are exits all around us, we just have to look for them.
Allegra Pacheco, 2023
Take the helm of yourself !
Oil on canvas
162.0 x 162.0cm
63.8 x 63.8 inch
These five paintings depict the landscape that surrounds the salaryman's life and the world the artist was immersed in during her exploration of the subject matter.
With a background in both photography and fine art, the artist based these oil paintings on 35mm stills she took throughout her visits to film for her “Salaryman” documentary.
A digital sketch is printed onto the canvas and oil paint is applied on top, balancing the medium between photography, painting, and multimedia which is characteristic of the artist’s background in a variety of crafts and disciplines.
Depicted we see Pancake (okonomiyaki) mix, which the artist used for her performance outline, a stack of onigiri in a convenience store, some “office” toilette paper found in an izakaya, a street scene with giant robots in a street car, and a salaryman witnessing a show in the “Robot Cafe.”
101.0 x 145.5 cm.
Edition 1 + AP 1
These three large prints show the performance piece the artist first created when approaching the salaryman subject in her practice.
Upon her first visit to Japan in 2012, the artist was surprised to see office workers sleeping in the street after late-night binge drinking sessions with their work colleagues.
New to the culture and ignorant to the salaryman culture the artist´s first impression was that the sleeping salarymen looked “like a murder scene. A corporate murder.”
As such, the artist decided to outline these “corporate murder victims” in a forensic fashion in order to point out the “crime” to the passersby that were accustomed to these types of scenes.
The artist decided once again to use Kombini products as her materials because convenience stores play a large role in the lives of salarymen who spend the majority of their waking life in the office and outside of their homes. Therefore the Kombini serves as a perfect venue to outfit most of the salarymen’s needs.
The use of pancake mix was deferred after an initial attempt at using chalk, which proved inadequate. Pancake mix is readily available in any convenience store, it spreads with ease and is gentle on the landscape, and causes no bodily harm or littering.