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Archive for December, 2012

Back from Japan

Get up early. Leaving Tokyo from Narita Airport at midday. First passing over red mountain ridges, meandering rivers and roads, then the deep blue for a while. Clear day.

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Another shore. Marshlands. Patterns much like marbled paper in old books; running water under ice and snow – going this way, that way.
Then the highlands, watershed.

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Floating high above Siberia for hours and hours, hooked between the progressing afternoon in Tokyo and Scandinavian morning. An outstretched present, clock jumps back and forth. North of the polar circle; night at noon.

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Rivers running north. The surface bears witness of forces working from below, exposed to those working from above. Geology, meteorology. Interface like a text which I can only vaguely guess the meaning of. Sometimes – but rarely – tracks of human activities. A broad, straight road. A military base? A single light shining from the shore of the Kara Sea.
Light, temperature, time; basics.

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Tokyo urban nature; all photos by HHW.

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Zenpukuji Park, hosting a community art project with (among others) artists Shoko Miki and Motoko Hoshi;
all photos by HHW.

After some days off in Hakone, Cecilia and I return to the group… to set up another exhibition in another city. The Swedish Embassy in Tokyo has opened their reception hall to host our party for a couple of weeks. Although the hall is large, it cannot compete with the Red Brick Warehouse; so, for want of space, only the Swedish artists are invited to participate this time. Oddly enough, this makes the exhibited artworks appear more disparate, and the exhibition as such is (in my view) a weaker statement compared to the Yokohama version.

Still, the hanging is – as always – an intriguing challenge. How does the imaginary space of a painted surface interact with the surrounding reality of all senses?
How can the spatial arrangement of physical objects result in a resonance of light, proportions and rhythm?

Our Japanese colleagues – whom we now think of not only as professionals, but as true friends – are incredibly supportive; most of them spend the whole day working for our benefit. The embassy staff are welcoming and helpful, too, and the positive atmosphere stays as the opening night turns into a hello-and-goodbye party. The ambassador’s speech is followed by a statement from EAJAS’ spokesperson Toshiko Watanabe, a powerful primus motor in the realization of this event.

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Contemporary Art from Sweden at the Swedish Embassy, Tokyo; all photos HHW.

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Good-bye, friends!

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The ryokan where we stay is close to the Hakone Tozan Cable Car which brings tourists like ourselves uphill. At the Sounzan terminus, one switches to ropeway for a yet steeper rise. Sulphuric vapours and steaming swift rivulets pour along the slopes far below, the foliage has turned to red all over the mountainsides and at Owakudani close to the top we change cars. Going down on the other side opens a new view; down, down towards lake Ashi – a sharply blue iris contemplating the view of Mount Fuji.

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At the other side of the lake we hit upon a former imperial highway, planted with cedars all along for shelter. We follow the narrow path, climb another hill – more steep than high – by a flight of stairs and trek through the forest above… Turning around a ridge, we find ourselves facing Mount Fuji once more, now more distant but clear in the crisp afternoon light. After a couple of hours, we reach the country road of our own times, asphalted and with a bus that brings us back to the shores of Ashinoko. And, as the sun sets, Mount Fuji reveals itself for a third and last time this day.

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