Michelle Frankfurter has recently completed her multi-year project titled Destino documenting Central American migrants traveling through Mexico to cross into the United States. Riding on top of freight trains through the southern Mexican states, the trip becomes even more perilous as the migrants approach the notoriously violent border. Frankfurter’s sensitive images are remarkable in their beauty and ability to capture both the danger of this journey and a sense of optimistic adventure. Frankfurter describes the project like this: “In Destino I seek to capture the experience of people who struggle to control their own destiny when confronted by extreme circumstances. Destino is both a social commentary on one of the biggest global issues of our times and an epic adventure tale. It conveys the experience of a generation of exiles, driven by poverty and the dysfunction of failed states, traveling across a landscape that has become increasingly dangerous, heading towards a precarious future as a last resort.”
Main detail of “Under the Wave off Kanagawa”, from the Thirty-six Views of Mt Fuji. Woodblock print by Katsushika Hokusai , 1830-33, Japan. BritishMuseum
This is perhaps the single most famous of Hokusai’s woodblock prints - perhaps of all Japanese prints. It belongs to the series ‘Thirty-six views of Mount Fuji' (Fugaku sanjûrokkei). The graceful snow-clad mountain stands out unperturbed against the deep blue of the horizon. Yet it is reduced to a tiny hillock compared with the towering strength of the wave which threatens to engulf the struggling boats. Such clever, playful manipulation of the composition is a feature of many of Hokusai's works.
Earlier this year I traveled to Nou, a fishing town on the north coast of Japan, to visit a sumo training academy. The country’s unofficial national sport dates back over 2,000 years. Rigorous daily training must be upheld in order to prepare the fighters for bouts that can be won or lost in seconds, and this school is where that regime starts for the sport’s future champions.
These children and teenagers eat, sleep, train, and study together 24 hours a day, with sumo training and preparation taking up their mornings and other studies their afternoons. They will remain at this school for six years, preparing their minds and building their bodies in the hope of becoming professional sumo wrestlers.