Distraction Series 10: A round-the-world armchair vacation with Arakawa and Madeline

Madeline and Arakawa with Mesoamerican statues in Tula, Mexico

1. Madeline poses as Arakawa casually leans on Toltec warrior statue in Tula, Mexico.

Given the current limitations on travel, Distraction Series 10 is here to bring you on a round-the-world armchair vacation with Arakawa and Madeline. From Mesoamerican ruins in Tula, Mexico, to Italy, France, Japan, and various locations in New York state, join us as we travel through time and space from the point of view of our two founders. We’ve pulled around twenty photographs from our archive for your viewing pleasure – scroll down for the images with descriptive captions. Winter, Spring, Summer, and Autumn, you’ll find Arakawa and Madeline posing, taking photographs, examining their environment, and planning their day over breakfast. Enjoy!

Yours in the reversible destiny mode,

Reversible Destiny Foundation and ARAKAWA+GINS Tokyo Office

Arakawa and Madeline posing in front of Japanese buildings in snow (3 Jan 1995)

2. Arakawa and Madeline all bundled up in front of snowy, thatched cottages in Japan.

Arakawa and Madeline on a boat in Venice

3. While Arakawa photographs his environment from a boat in Venice, Italy, someone else turns the lens on him and Madeline.

Madeline with haystacks in France

4. Madeline poses in front of a field of haystacks in France, as if she has just stepped into a Monet painting.

Arakawa in front of a castle in France

5. Arakawa looks pensive in the shadows against the backdrop of a French castle.

Madeline and Arakawa walking on a street near a horse drawn trailer (Sep 1986)

6. Madeline and Arakawa both turn to look over their shoulders as they pass in front of a horse and buggy, U.S.A., September, 1986.

Arakawa walking up stairs in Europe

7. Arakawa strikes a pose on some picturesque European steps.

Madeline on the deck of a boat

8. Madeline poses in a beautiful, white dress on a boat. Unfortunately, a finger was covering part of the lens – something one wouldn’t discover until the photographs were developed after the vacation was over. Many of us might have experienced this in the last century especially!

Madeline touching plants on a trail in Japan (1979)

9. Ever curious, Madeline examines some leaves on a trail in Japan, 1979.

Madeline and Arakawa walking outside

10. Arakawa and Madeline shift their gazes downward as they come to a standstill before a stone wall in Upstate New York.

Arakawa and Madeline posing on a Japanese street

11. Madeline and Arakawa pose on the sidewalk in Hakone, Japan, 1979, with the famous Hakone Fujiya Hotel and a mountain in the background.

Madeline and Arakawa near a smoky campfire

12. Madeline and Arakawa stand behind a thick cloud of smoke billowing from a camp fire in Upstate New York.

Image of clouds from plane window

13. Who can resist the urge to take a photograph from an airplane window? A “mistake” in the development of this photograph gives the impression of a full moon hovering over a mountain range, with a planet floating nearby.

Arakawa walking on stone path near Mayan ruins

14. Arakawa turns to look over his shoulder as he walks along a scenic path near Mayan ruins.

Arakawa and Madeline writing at a breakfast table in Japan (1979)

15. Arakawa and Madeline writing and looking through pamphlets as they enjoy breakfast at The Fujiya, a French restaurant at the Hakone Fujiya Hotel in Hakone, Japan, 1979.

Polaroid of Arakawa in Venice (Jun 1969)

16. Arakawa’s profile in shadow in front of the canal in Venice, Italy, June 1969.

Polaroid of Madeline in Venice (Jun 1969)

17. A fashionable Madeline walking in Venice, Italy, June 1969, with a trench coat draped around her shoulders.

Arakawa in front of the leaning tower of Pisa

18. Arakawa leans against a low wall with a tower in the background.

Polaroid of Madeline on a boat in Venice

19. Madeline relaxes in a boat on the canal in Venice, Italy, her head perfectly framed by an archway.


20. Arakawa sits in an armchair in the middle of an intersection in Japan. A bicycle wheel to the left and the grid lines of a building above, partially frame him in references to Modern art.

Contact sheet of images of Tula, Mexico

21. Negatives from Arakawa and Madeline’s trip to Tula, Mexico, bring back memories of how we used to take vacation photographs.

Snapshot of a snowy riverbank (26 Jan 1990)

22. A peaceful winter landscape. This is the type of photograph that we all wind up taking in multiples, especially now in the digital age, for while we cannot bare to pass by such beauty without capturing it, our attempts rarely convey the pure majesty of being in nature. January 26th, 1990.

Images: Photographs featuring or taken by Arakawa and Madeline, 1-22: 1: Tula, Mexico; 2: Japan; 3: Venice, Italy; 4: France; 5: France; 6: most likely U.S.A., September, 1986; 7: most likely Europe; 8: boat; 9: Japan, 1979; 10: most likely upstate New York; 11: Hakone, Japan, 1979; 12: most likely upstate New York; 13: from window of airplane; 14: near Mayan ruins; 15: The Fujiya, a French Restaurant at the Hakone Fujiya Hotel in Hakone, Japan, 1979; 16: Venice, Italy, June 1969; 17: Venice, Italy, June 1969; 18: most likely Europe; 19: Venice, Italy; 20: Japan; 21: Tula, Mexico, negatives; 22: January 26, 1990