The Strangest Stranger
Magnus Bärtås | Sweden, Japan
In Haruki Murakami’s novel ‘Kafka on the Beach’, a mysterious man appears, who calls himself Johnnie Walker. Is he modelled on Joni Waka, a Jewish man living in Tokyo, or is it the other way round? The charismatic and talkative Waka is a true chameleon. A self-proclaimed outsider, a compulsive liar, a homosexual and the natural centre of every party. And he comes from an age-old Jewish lineage – as he himself claims. The Swedish artist Magnus Bärtås met Waka 20 years ago, and has since been fascinated by how this professional oddball has cultivated his entire life story as fiction. Joni Waka ignores all social norms – and there are a few of these in Japan – and sees himself as a ‘henna gaijin’, the strangest among strangers. A self-image that launches him into many confrontations and adventures, and he insists on living it out every single moment of his life. And no, not only romantic comedies end with a wedding. Rumor has it that there is something about the African man whom Waka once seduced in Daqar.