Aren't these beautiful?
This look into the correspondences between photographer Yoshie Tominaga and Patti Smith has been thoughtfully documented in Tominaga's book The Shepherd. There is a lot I could say about why I love these scans; for one thing, the book as a whole chronicles the photographer's early documentation of designer Jun Takahashi's career with Under Cover along with snippets of her own life, and the photographs between Patti and Yoshie are just as quietly profound as the letters that they accompany on their pages. In these letters, there are moments of sadness- Yoshie starts some with apologies, Patti falls ill, Yoshie finds herself emotional after one of Patti's poetry readings, but all in all, there is the assurance that there will be a letter in the mail, some correspondence from a missed friend, a little compassion felt within and around their handwriting.
Both artists are no strangers to heartbreak, loss and a commingling with the darker recesses of life. Some live in perpetual desaturation, and gathering entire universes onto a page through a poem, a stanza, a drawing, it puts your world in front of you. These letters, accompanied by both the friends' photographs, indeed seem melancholy, but their truthfulness and warmth still come through as fragments of the other side.
Don't you find that both their handwriting looks similar too? I can't help but love that, it's kind of charming and reflects that they have a lot in common intellectually. I'm working on writing letters again since I've made a few friends overseas, I did it more as a kid, and now I'm even asking frineds in Brooklyn if I can write letters to them. Facebook and social media in general have made me lazy, rendering my friendships to simply occupy my computer and phone from time to time. The presence of someone's voice and thoughts coming through their personal handwriting is a really powerful experience, and I think we tend to forget that, especially when now it's more often confined to a card and not an actual letter, as letter-writing has become somewhat obsolete. I get it, I really do, but why not engage in such an act now that it has become a truly special ritual?