I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the friendships that form between girls. As a kid, I always had just one best friend. I tended to have these incredibly close, very intense relationships with just a single person. I guess you could say my serial monogamy began back in grade school, because as an adult, I do the same thing with men.
I think I’ve always been drawn to the intimacy that can arise between a pair of two—especially between two girls. For years, the most important relationship in my life was with a friend named Sara. We spent every free moment together; we held hands, we called each other every night; we talked alike and acted alike. We were eventually voted “Dynamic Duo” in our high school yearbook. Even now, when fiances and boyfriends have become our Significant Others, we remain close. But the giddiness, the head-tingling pleasure of whispering secrets, the sweet feeling of acceptance—all that is something I will always link to childhood. To late night sleepovers and days spent passing notes, written in glitter pen, folded with intricate origami, and written in the secret language that passes between middle school girls.
While her photographs don’t depict groups of two, Osamu Yokonami’s series of schoolgirl portraits remind me of that strange, almost mystical feeling of becoming so very, very close with another person. There is nothing sexual about it, but in some ways, that makes it even more intense; it’s wanting to be someone, to inhabit the same space, to have an identity that is somehow more than yourself, yet lighter, more diaphanous, full of sweetness and light and air.
Dressed in uniform, these girls are seen from a distance. At this range, they all look the same. They could have come out of the same wooden doll, little matryoshkas walking one by one across a snowy field. They could be dolls or demons. They meld together, these girls.
The entire series is gorgeous, as is all Yokonami’s work. There is a dreamy quality to it that reminds me of old photographs, shot with clunky cameras and developed in dark rooms. See what I mean, here.