Early in the photobook, an image of a graffitied message on a wall in Montreal reads “tout est commun” (everything is common). In his own words: “Certain juxtapositions of the book highlight the similarities of form or texture or colour. To me, there is not much difference between a naked body and nature, or even architecture. You’ll find form, function, harmony, and also signs of use in all of them. I never really understood why we are still so shocked by a naked body.”
On the title of the book, the author explains that “the acronym of the German proverb “Aufgeben ist keine option” (giving up is not an option) describes moments of our lives where we have to push through because there is no other option.” Aiko reveals, for the first time, a number of intimate diary photos Hetz captured in 2020. “I started to take photos after an encephalitis destroyed big chunks of my memory. Without the photos, there’s a good chance that I would not be able to remember a lot of it.”
Aiko is a photographic memoir. It is an incredibly candid work, refreshing in its nakedness. It gives the reader access into a turbulent year in the life of the artist. At the close, the author notes that “all the photos in this book were taken in the year my father died.” In a blurry image near the centre of the book we find a note on what appears to be a table. “The day my father died I found the message, ‘after a long time of waiting, a wish is going to be fulfilled’ in a fortune cookie. He fought cancer for over 11 years and, in the end, he did not want to live anymore. I believe the message was for him, not for me.”
By allowing us into their world, Hetz permits the reader to share, in communion, a period of time which we all come to experience in one form or another throughout our lives. Another fortune cookie script is given as a companion to the final image of the book. On the left, the message reads “Your life is going to be enriched by unusual experiences.” On the right, you find a slug between the first and second third of the image’s frame, the top third extends markedly into the distance from the slug’s perspective.
On photography as a profession, Hetz professes that it “started for me as a personal mission in order to create structure in my life, but it accidentally turned into a career. I never wanted to be a photographer. Life chose differently for me, and I’m not mad about it.” Neither are we.