Behind the image

Johnny Tang

PHOTO  .  January 19th, 2017

What’s the background of this image?

Landmines comes from a series I completed between 2010-2011 titled Senbazuru.

In Japan there is a tradition known as “Senbazuru” (literally 1000 cranes) that states, anyone who folds 1000 origami cranes will be granted a single wish by the gods. The cranes are usually strung together, and hung on the outer walls of a temple, where they slowly decay as they are exposed to the elements. It is believed that the sacrificed cranes will then carry the wish up to heaven, for the gods to receive.

I am an impatient American, so I decided to burn mine.

I folded the cranes over the course of a year, personally creasing each beak and wing myself! I did this because I wanted to know what it felt like to bring every crane into this world, and banish it into the next.

Since I can’t exactly burn 1000 cranes twice (unless of course, I had 2000 cranes). I experimented with placing the cranes in different compositions before I attempted to burned them in a snowy landscape. Landmines is the penultimate image I shot prior to starting that fire.

When I first started this project I was hoping to create a huge fireball in the snow. “This will be so cool” I thought, “There’s no way I could screw this up!” But when the moment of destruction finally came, the little bastards refused to catch light – instead they just simmered quietly, laughing at me.

Johnny Tang – photographer based in Brooklyn