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The Mind Favors Delusion

Teaming up with French director Fabien Baron, widely recognized for his iconic ad campaigns and editorial work, Mari creates a sort of otherworldly dreamscape, which we, of course, could not wait to explore with the artist herself. Check out our full interview with Sarai Mari below.

How did you get into photography?



I still remember the moment when I bumped into my friend on the train in Tokyo—she showed me some of her assignments from her photography school and I felt some mixed emotions like jealousy and frustration. I couldn’t let that feeling go from my head after that. That was the moment when I realized photography is what I wanted to be involved in.




Are there differences between Tokyo, London, and New York within each respective photo industry? If so, what are they?



Yes. Tokyo is small, the community is small, people know each other. There were tons of gigs that come around, it was all up to me if I wanted to take it or not. It didn’t take more than 2 years to get my career as a photographer on track. I was totally puffed up over my career in Tokyo. As soon as I moved to London,I felt like I was nothing. But I guess I was lucky enough to meet some “geeks”. Geeks in music, geeks in fashion, geeks in culture. When I was in London, which was the 00s, it was all about where you worked. If you weren’t a part of Dazed either i-D, there was nothing you could do. Eventually, I joined Dazed where I got connected to people who were not only edgy, cool, also sophisticated. To refine your sense, London is the answer—at least for me.


New York is the city where people who already have their name value gather together to make big money moves. People come to this city with experiences they’ve already earned to go to the top level. There’s so much more competition. New York City is the only place where I got yelled, screamed at too. Did I have time to be depressed and complain about it? No. Everyone is serious here with passion and so I am. Tough gigs without pay certainly brought my photography skills to the next level. People make their dreams come true in New York City—opportunities are everywhere, however, you have to be prepared for them all the time, you never know when they show up in front of you.


東京は小さくてたくさん仕事があるから(少なくとも当時は)自分次第で仕事を詰めることができた。やってた人は一日3件ハシゴしてただろうね。最初の数年は大変だったけど5年東京にいたら自分が目標にしてた仕事もできたしお金も溜まっていった。でもその頃海外は、雲の上の世界で。 実際にロンドンにいって見て自分が完全に井の中の蛙だったことを痛感させられた。本当に何も知らなかったんだなって。でも運良くDazed に参加することができて、たくさんのオタクたちに会えたんだよね。音楽にしても、ファッションにしても、カルチャーにしても知識量が半端なかった。若くて洗練されてるカッコいい子がいっぱいいた。おかげで感性は研ぎ澄ませれたし、色々学べた。ロンドン含めてヨーロッパはクリエイターとしての道を目指すなら若いうちにいくべき場所だと思う。 ニューヨークは一流が集まる場所。大金が動く場所でもある。上京した時に東京のカメラマンの数にびっくりして、ロンドンでそれより多い数に圧倒されたけど、ニューヨークは比べ物にならない。カメラマンだけでなく、全てのジャンルの競争率が高い。東京とロンドンでキャリアを積んだにも関わらずこのニューヨーク生活5年間野次られて怒鳴られまくったよ。おかげで、私の写真がどんどんいい方向に変わっているのは実感してる。ヨーロッパとの決定的な違いは、お金の流れかな。だから大物は最終的にニューヨークに集まってくる。チャンスがそこら中に転がってるから、自分次第でどこまでも行けるからね。ただなめてはかかれない、みんな本気だから。

What’s your vision for the future?



I don’t have any plans to move to somewhere else at this moment. I have to keep going to make my name value way bigger each day to make what I desire to happen. I want to have my solo exhibition in major cities such as London, Mirano, Paris, Madrid— at either famous galleries or museums in my 60-70s. I will keep releasing my photo books. Let’s say I quit photography, and somebody else, who is an Asian woman, does all of those instead of me and become successful. I would keep regretting that while I’m dead in my grave.




What is your book DELUSION about?


I made this photo book for myself, for the first time ever. My first book Naked and my second book Speak Easy have clear messages, but my third book doesn’t. My husband calls my persecution complex a disease, which lives inside of me always. I am still scared of men. My third book is the place I can be true self, revealing the fears, phobias, paranoia, daydreaming, fantasy, and delusion I carry with me. No matter where I am, delusions will always rise up after.



Sarai’s new solo exhibition opens today, July 11, until July 18 at ON CANAL, 312 Canal St.

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