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An exploration of loneliness through literature and visual art

An exploration of loneliness through literature and visual art
Artists Kuzma Vostrikov and Ajuan Song reflect on how they combined various art forms to explore loneliness in their book Just to Land in Tokyo
On December 7, the Orange Art Foundation (New York) released the book Just to Land in Tokyo, which represents a combined genre of literature and visual art. The project is the result of our multidisciplinary collaboration: the book combines a novel and a series of photographs that, in a way, illustrate the text.
"The project is the result of our multidisciplinary collaboration"
The text narrates the story of Hans, an exuberant photographer who experienced the death of his mother while fleeing across the Berlin Wall to West Berlin. Hans's parents harboured the idea of a better life and prepared for their escape without anticipating the cost of achieving their goal. Ultimately, Hans, having emigrated to America, could not cope with the disposition of his feelings and the layers of his past. In New York, he meets Yuma, a jazz singer, who turns his life upside down in a single day. However, of course, it all ends in just one day: the singer vanishes without a trace. Whether she was a figment of his imagination or couldn't withstand the intensity of the feelings Hans inadvertently unleashed remains unclear.
Hans launches an absurd campaign to find Yuma. His efforts not only fail, but Hans also begins to doubt the reality of what's happening. He receives a lawsuit for half a million dollars for damaging Yuma's reputation.

The cold world of money

Feelings and questions measured in money, that's the secret line of the narrative. The monetisation of everything existential. As if Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa stepped out of the painting and exclaimed, "Enough!" before starting to twerk for TikTok. Time, the margin of the personal, has a definite financial constant. The reality in which Hans finds himself starts to operate with him according to the laws of commerce, business, and success, with which Hans is unfamiliar. He saw New York in pictures, but lived in a warm-blooded body, burning with eternal values, cultivating the "impractical," the "unnecessary," poorly serving marketing.
Speaking in an old, forbidden language, Hans was a poet. Fate spat him out into the cauldron of the pragmatic, the so-called rational. The rational is characterised primarily by the metric of money. Therefore, the trial against Hans is no accident. It's a metaphor for Hans's lagging behind the so-called cultural situation he found himself in. The Doppler effect of his expectations.
"Feelings and questions measured in money, that's the secret line of the narrative"
Hans wanted to listen to jazz but got his father in a coffin. Hans cherished the past, doubted his parents' choices, and was labeled a failed immigrant. One of the millions sleeping on hard mattresses in the cubbyholes of Manhattan's office worms. A sour photographer, swallowing his childhood drool of melancholy.
Hans is a box of fears that the foul-smelling city of New York forgot to unload. Hans is a walking body, reeking of the morgue. That's why the only woman in his life, his so-called fate, ran away from him.
Therefore, Yuma slapped him with a half-million-dollar lawsuit—like a bum sprawled out on Wall Street. Yuma knows how to do business!
But enough about literature and ghosts. Let's stick more to reality. 

Exploring loneliness through art

Hans, the shimmering hero. He is sometimes an abstract character, sometimes a fragment of an exact copy of his master, who set a bottle with a text adrift in the ocean. Behind every superhero, there is a real support staff. Thus, behind Hans's feats and his holy battle with monsters and New York, there were us: Kuzma Vostrikov and Ajuan Song. We, full of blood vessels, poems, desires, and questions. The book is about death and loneliness.
Such a small heap, like New York, a city of absurd, delight, false hopes, bankrupting bills, and millions of cynics sitting with machine guns in offices—that's just the beginning of your question when you're an artist. Arrived with a suitcase at JFK, standing in line for a taxi. Now the city will show you!
Ajuan Song, one of the creators of Just to Land in Tokyo
In the book, Hans was alone, but in New York, there are at least two of us. If you set aside egocentrism and believe in reincarnations, then there are thousands of us! Hungry, ragged, crossing the border to touch the Statue of Liberty's boot with an exhausted hand. We cross the Atlantic in wooden airplanes! We fall just short of landing.
Enough of the overly high-flown poetry. Let's stick to a digest format.
In short, after immersing ourselves in the art scene of the biggest, most expensive, smartest, and most successful city, we rolled up our sleeves!
Kuzma: "Ajuan wanted to create. She wanted to click the shutter of a camera. I wanted to write. So we decided: she would start taking photographs and could use my mug, belly, and legs as a model. And I would supply the photographs with textual comments about New York. And then we would make a book, a photo album!"
So it almost turned out. That is, it turned out not at all as expected!
The book was published, but more like an alien. Yes, it contains a hundred photographs, yes, it includes a story. But what kind of child this is, in the format of a heavy rectangular brick of eternity, we hardly understand ourselves. We moved too long and passionately by touch, dreaming of escaping the labyrinth whose walls are made of skyscrapers and people!
"It turned out not at all as expected"
We bruised our knees and elbows, ribs sticking out under our shirts. The stubborn city showed us a masterclass in horror! Museums, galleries, artists, photographers, everyone we talked to, seemed to get caught in a single centrifuge and switched roles. For a moment, we even thought we were the bosses! We're more important than Andy Warhol!
Then there was Hans, who cut out Andy's silhouette and walked around the city with it, chatting and yearning. And in the corridors of reality, we collected plastic props in the studio to dive into the ocean of happiness, consumption, garbage, enthusiasm!
In the end, the artist comes to his misfortune, his interpretation of being, ending with a melancholic full stop. But, posing and suffering, we say that this is not the end. "Just to Land in Tokyo"—Hans's feat is just beginning.
And we, like frogs that have croaked and tired, are about to snack on mosquitoes to continue our philosophical parable!
Welcome to New York, uh, to Tokyo, Hans!
Just to Land in Tokyo by Kuzma Vostrikov and Ajuan Song is published by Orange Art Foundation and is available to buy now
Cover image: Kuzma Vostrikov
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