Fumiko Imano and Her Twin Built from Scratch

The Japanese photographer started the series ‘We Oui’ to tackle an identity crisis and a feeling of loneliness.


WordsHenri Robert

‘sacre coeur/paris/2017’ © fumiko imano, Courtesy of KOSAKU KANECHIKA

After growing up in Brazil and living in both London and Paris, Fumiko Imano settled in Japan, her country of origin, at the age of eight. This return made the young girl feel uncomfortable, as she felt as if she was not at home, that she was alone. When she reached adulthood, she left to study fashion photography in London, then worked as a model, stylist, and photographer.

Now based in Hitachi, Fumiko Imano tackles this identity crisis alongside a twin sister who has been accompanying her in her work for twenty years.


Cutting and pasting

The artist, born in 1974, works from photographs that she cuts and pastes, adding her imaginary twin sister to the original shot. The two figures appear in front of the world’s most famous monuments, from the Sacré-Coeur to the Statue of Liberty, but also in a more intimate environment, filmed using the camera of a building’s intercom system. In each photograph, in what has become a therapeutic exercise, the artist juxtaposes her image with that of her imaginary double, without trying to conceal the setup.

The series Twins was notably presented in 2018 at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, during a shoot with model Saskia de Brauw for the ready-to-wear brand Loewe. In a film made for the occasion, the photographer explains how the years she spent in Brazil as a ‘Japanese girl’ impacted her youth and led her to feel like an ‘alien.’ This feeling of incongruity ultimately resulted in the birth of her twin.

Fumiko Imano is also a composer and has written a song entitled ‘Hiruma no chocho.’


Although the series We Oui is ongoing, part of it was compiled in the book WE OUI!. Some of the artist’s other work can be viewed on the website for her gallery KOSAKU KANECHICA.

‘liberty/nyc/2016’ 2016 / 2020 © fumiko imano, Courtesy of KOSAKU KANECHIKA

‘yo/nyc/2016’ 2016 / 2020 © fumiko imano, Courtesy of KOSAKU KANECHIKA

‘delivery girls/tokyo/2020’ 2020 / 2020 © fumiko imano, Courtesy of KOSAKU KANECHIKA