Rafa Raigón, Ikigai

Curator: Filip Ćwik


Ikigai is a Japanese philosophical concept that means “reasons to exist”. According to this idea, everyone has his or her own ikigai. Taking a closer look at the principles of Japanese philosophy, it is obvious that this is not knowledge for initiates. These are universal values that can easily be transferred to and adapted to fit a European context. Passion, love, fulfilment, a goal, a mission, a vocation.

Finding reasons to live often requires a long search, yet it also happens that reasons do not come out of nowhere, but have thought behind them; we can also come across them by accident. Yet the very search can lead to happiness and fulfilment, as ikigai liberates you from marasmus, from mental and physical blockage; it fills you with life and brings satisfaction. It is like oxygen for the cells, like new love. It gives meaning to existence.

Rafa Raigón was born in Córdoba, a region of Andalusia, in Spain. He and his siblings were brought up under their parents’ watchful eye. He led an ordinary life. He studied, did well at sport, travelled, gave vent to his emotions in an experimental theatre group, fell in love, and got married. In a space he had known since birth, surrounded by familiar faces, security and meaning of life were fated to Rafa in advance, without any dabbling in philosophy or special effort, guided by his young age.

A move to Berlin, and contact with another culture and language, reshuffled Rafa’s life entirely. He was forced to step outside of his safety zone and try to find himself again, in a world he had never known. The increase of new aspects to his life, the language barrier, and the birth of his three children made him look deep inside, to rediscover and seek out a way of expressing and liberating his emotions and needs.

It turned out that photography was the most intuitive way of recording and documenting his everyday life. It became Rafa’s means to communicate with the outside world, its symbol and signpost. A new language. Rafa’s previous theatre experience intuitively steered his work toward performance. In an easy and natural fashion, he introduced three aims and three passions into his work, the three fold meaning of his existence. His own private sense of ikigai.

In seeking his ikigai, Rafa Raigón did not have to set off on a great journey. He takes the most important journeys every day, in his own home.

Text by Filip Ćwik


Rafa Raigón (1976, Córdoba, Spain)

Studied sports science in Granada, Spain, and later attended Theatre School in Cordoba, Spain. In 2009 he moved to Berlin with his family. The difficulty of performing theatre in German led him to pick up a camera to illustrate that which he could not express due to the language barrier. Since then, being completely self-taught, he has been developing his work and skills through festivals such as PA-TA-TA in Granada in 2012, Full Contact within the festival SCAN 2012 in Tarragona, and the EI AWARD in Braga 2015. His work has been exhibited in Berlin in 2014 and 2015, Croatia in 2016, Lecce, Italy in September 2016, and Granada, Spain in 2017.