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This New Yorker Has Spent The Last Two Years Disguised As An Old Woman Photographing Her Imagined Existence In The City

I Used to Be You- Koyoko Hamada

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Ask most A̶m̶e̶r̶i̶c̶a̶n̶ women and they'll admit that they have sacrificed ample amounts of their time trying to make themselves appear younger.

So it may come as some shock that one New Yorker has spent the past few years of her life sacrificing her youth and living her days as an old woman…on purpose.

New York photographer Kyoko Hamada, 42, has spent the past two years disgusing herself as the fictional character Kikuchiyo-san, an elderly lady who lives by herself in the city and captures her lonely existence on camera.

The photography series, which sees the photographer deck herself out in full prosthetic make up and kitsch clothing explores Kikuchiyo-san's existence in the busy city, is entitled I Used to Be You.

Hamada explains that this title was the result of her own fears about ageing and confronting her older self.

'When I think of what could happen if we ran into each other in a crowded train station or during a walk in the park, I get uneasy imaginining her say, "I used to be you"' she writes on her website.

Hamada says that adding decades to her life has made her aware of an overwhelming sense of lonliness in later life.

She told The Huffington Post: 'No one seemed to care, or even notice me. It's already very easy to feel ignored in New York City, but as Kikuchiyo-san, I sometimes felt totally invisible.'

She continued: 'I have always been drawn to elders. I often sense an otherworldly air from them as though they are still living in another time. These are the kind of elders that I wonder what their life is like, that I want to talk to, or follow them to their home'.

After entering her fourth season as her older alter-ego Hamada feels she shares an affinity with her but admits she would be as guilty as any other city dweller when it comes to acknowledging Kikuchiyo-san's existence.

She writes on her website: 'If I met Kikuchiyo-san, I might just smile at her and be quiet for a while. She probably wouldn't say much either; she might just nod and smile if I spoke about anything at all. Or, she might ask me to sit with her on a park bench and we would look at the sunset in the quiet stillness.'

The project takes inspiration from the photographer's own personal experiences, instances that have reminded her of the onward motion of time.

She continues: 'Small losses like my favorite corner café being replaced by a chain drug store and finding the first few strands of gray in my hair. Or, bigger losses like death of my father and the disaster in Japan a year ago in March.

'A reminder that time and life are always moving.'

The final body of work that sees Kikuchiyo-san take trips to the seaside, fairground and bending the ear of a policeman consists of 99 photographs that Hamada hopes to transform into a book with her Kickstarter campaign.

The photographer added that although donning a grey wig and wearing latex wrinkles does encourage humour she hopes to also demonstrate that Kikuchiyo-san is the same person she once was but her beauty has evolved.

Hamada told the Huffington Post: 'Each stage of our life is a temporary experience. There are different kinds of beauty in different periods of our lives. Beauty in a five-year-old child, a 25-year-old, a 45- or 75-year-old woman is all different.'

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