Nakanojo Biennale, Japan, 2017

mixed media and drawing site-specific installation | silk, cotton, gold leaf, seaweed, lightbulb, hemp, clay, sand, paper, pen, ink, botanic prints, marble tacks, clock, found objects, HD video & sound

Installed at Nakaya Ryokan, Shima Onsen, Japan

Moving image collaborators | Arata Mori, Chaong Wen Ting

Sound collaboration | Miquel Parera

The Shima Elders

pigment ink on paper, 500 x 700 mm / series of 8

Presented in the installation The Curves of the Hours

During the Nakanojo Biennale 2017 residency, my studio space was located in the spa village of Shima Onsen in the mountains of Gunma Prefecture in Japan. This is a small and picturesque town built along a rushing river. These portraits represent some of the inhabitants of Shima, as a way to understand the people and the place.

Unable to fluently communicate with the locals, I devised a form of portraiture to allow for a private communing in the studio, accompanied by the white noise of th river torrent outside. I was introduced to eight of the ‘elders’ of Shima: people who are all still involved, in running the village, from the woman who roasts manju on the roadside, to the soba-noodle maker at the local restaurant, and hotel and shop owners. Basing the drawings on a quick photograph of each face, it was my computer technology that afforded me a form of intimacy I wouldn’t have otehrwise had access to. By zooming deep into those faces I try to learn each elder’s patterns of ‘weathering’. Their faces reveal hidden circles or waveforms, others are triangular, others yet are pointillist. Each face opened up the landscape as marks on a face, as a topography revealed only through the voyeuristic eye of the software.

Elements of the portraits were combined into a nine metre long scroll where all the shapes of these facial features become a fluid field of lines.

*** Special thanks to Mr Orita Katsumi for local support in Shima Onsen ***

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