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Proof of Existence

I traveled part of the way to Hakone under a poster with an image in grey, of cracks in a pavement - Proof of Existence. The Hakone area seems stuffed with museums and galleries that will tempt me back; this poster was for Shinji Omaki's Proof of Existence.

 

Passing the Hakone Open-Air Museum I saw evidence of artworks that will need to be explored. Plentiful signs and posters pointed to other inviting destinations; Hakone brought itself to my attention and certainly has something to live up to, next time I come.

 

Standing in front of the naked musician blowing an oversized horn, I presumed it was an homage to the real life naked trumpeter.

This one was small - less than hobbit-sized and on loan from, yes, somewhere in Hakone. A bronze statue in the Marunouchi Street Gallery in Tokyo, he was modestly shaded by a tree, small in every detail (bar the musical instrument), and looking very comfortable with his nudity.

 

If I am frequenting all the wrong places to find disability culture, it is not just the lure of the 'mainstream' famous arts, it is also their accessibility and plentiful abundance. I continue to question the existence of disability culture yet daily hope to find it hidden in plain sight. Invisible only because of a culture chasm.

 

Yet is a society without the need for disability culture good or bad? Is this taking integration too far? Does it free up disabled people or oppress them?

 

This experiment of trying to find Disability Arts and artists 'from the ground up' needs some control data to line up against. Maybe I need to visit London as a foreigner and see how far I get.

 

Those universal sounds, uttered by

deaf people signing, alert me. Here

on the train I travel, wheels on wheels

back to the crowd, quietly watching

window reflection, unobserved.

Instant curiosity lifts heads

momentarily; and flashed tension

comes, goes, never was. I get the

outrageous idea of a culture

where disability just isn't

a concept; a culture where people

are just and gloriously people.

 

 

Posted by Gini, 6 June 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 10 June 2012

Chopstick impressions, access and flying solo.

Semi abstract picture of a woman drawn with Chinese ink and pigments, in a slim wooden frame, seen with reflected city-scape in shop-window..

I've had a disagreement with a woman in an art gallery. We were discussing; I was talking about the visitors to galleries, she was talking about the exhibitors in general and the artist exhibiting there in particular.

I said that Japanese took art very seriously. She declared that he had a free and easy style and Japanese art was very varied.

We politely agreed to disagree when suddenly she realised what I was trying to say, looked discreetly around, and then totally agreed with me. We both laughed, but quite discreetly; the atmosphere was very solemn.

While Japanese people walk around galleries in a state of solemnity, once positioned in front of a piece they are not intimidated by art; everyone seems keen to deliver their personal interpretation and to express an opinion.

Not much of an exchange, yet quite a milestone for me who speaks very little Japanese. There are moments when I feel I understand other people's conversations, but dialogue is much more tricky.

I am frequently approached by strangers keen to try out their language skills and strange meanderings across a variety of European languages result in painfully protracted monologues that have no real content.

I am however left with the impression that the locals have noticed me, like the way I look and enjoy the humorous positioning of chopsticks in my hair.

The chopsticks probably say more than I do, certainly more than I am aware of, and they seem to give the impression that I am accessible.

Wandering out of my comfort zone,
finding less accessible quarters,
I discover galleries. Indeed many,
all with steps enough to keep me out.
And curbs not dropped enough
to let me pass; but then I find
a rush of angels keen 
running to open doors;
eager to be
of assistance.
Solicitous. 
And I start to ponder 
the seldom seen
disabled person
flying solo. 

 

 

Posted by Gini, 1 June 2012

Last modified by Gini, 2 June 2012

Tema Hema - Effort Time.

Today I revisited Design Sight 21_21, the design exhibition space of the Issey Miyake Foundation, created by Issey Miyake and Tadeo Ando.

Tema Hima - the Art of Living in Tohoku, was exactly that. Film and exhibited objects described the traditional ways of sourcing food and tools that are being practiced in Tohoku, site of The Great East Japan Earthquake.

Visually fascinating, informative and an advocate for the inspirational quality of this way of living holding a key to future survival, this exhibition was exquisitely curated and absorbed my attention for several hours.

The artists and craftspeople who put this exhibition together believe that the future is potentially a dangerous place, and that to be knowledgable and capable of feeding yourself and local community is one kind of utopian space.

At the National Arts Centre, now celebrating it's 5th anniversary, were two special exhibitions: Cezanne, Paris - Provence, and 400 years of European Masterpieces from the State Hermitage Museum.

There was also a massive and well visited exhibition of local artists, the amateurs, as the staff apologetically described them. There seems to be no middle ground, you are famous, international, or nobody; this seems to be one of humanity's universal directions.

But maybe in their search for what it means to be Japanese, people here have not really bought-in to this notion of what it means to be famous; maybe the apology is merely thought appropriate for a foreigner like me.

I was certainly impressed by the scale of local talent which seemed both more international and more Japanese than last year.

And this year there appeared to be a selection of wheelchairs and baby buggies available for visitors to borrow, with even the possibility of a volunteer to do the pushing.

 

 

Nobody exhibits in the

National Art Centre.

Nobody has ten

1000m2 galleries

with 5 metre

ceilings and 20

moveable panels.

Nobody has

370 metres

to share.

Kisho Kurokawa

makes good space.

 

 

 

Posted by Gini, 26 May 2012

Last modified by Gini, 5 June 2012

Surreality

Somehow my personal artwork is progressing. Putting out bits as they form had seemed such a scary prospect; I’d half expected the exposure to kill the inspiration. But now I happily remember how much I used to enjoy working to an audience as a student.

However, I spent a chunk of yesterday submerged in surreality; from Peter Eugene Ball’s driftwood sculptures to Nick Blinko’s pen and ink drawings and the strange sensation of Pallant House floating, tethered to Sir Colin Wilson’s 2006 red brick extension.

Chichester Cathedral hosts “Sacred and Secular” until 29th September: haunting driftwood figures that span cultures, faiths and worlds, flowing back and forth between death and life.

Nog’s teeth. Live
long and prosper. Way
back beyond final frontiers;
the Bell-man alerts:
warning, warning.
And please Sir!
Me Sir, me Sir.
Take me down
enfold my arms.
When the lights go out
we will all creep away.

Take the ship;
horse-manes foam under
silent Styx; nosing through, we’ll
flee the public gaze.
Warning, warning.
Take me down
enfold my arms
my empty arms;
wag my tail.
When the lights go out
we will all creep away.

See through secrets,
swelling, biting.
Stations alert.
And please Sir!
Me Sir, me Sir.
Short, sharp creeping,
stiff bones weeping.
Take me down,
enfold my arms;
when the lights go out
we will all creep away.


I easily made a link between them and the amazing pen and ink drawings just about visible in Pallant House. I was very disappointed to discover them in a darkened room and positioned in cabinets way above comfort levels from my wheelchair. In fact they were too far away and poorly lit to see any of the intricate detail. The four enlarged, laminated copies on the table were helpful when taken into the daylight, but the magnifying glasses, pressed against the glass cabinets by standing visitors, were no help at all. This exhibition finished on the 14th August. 

Pallant House itself was an accessible surprise; it’s eclectic collection of twentieth century British artwork sitting more and less comfortably in the Queen Anne building. It was Andy Goldsworthy’s etched chalk boulder resonating in the marble fireplace that drew me in and allowed Pallant House itself to offer up it’s own surreal experience.

Some things just work perfectly and appear so simple and obvious. The genius is in the inspiration.

Somewhat in the same vein, I was pondering aloud about Susie Macmurray’s mussel shells neatly stuffed with red silk velvet; commenting that this particular idea would not have occurred to me.

“That is because you are not an artist” was the ignorant pronouncement of an arrogant soul passing behind me. Surreal.

Posted by Gini, 12 August 2011

Last modified by Gini, 12 September 2011