Artwork: Untitled, from the series 'Ametsuchi'
Artist: Rinko Kawauchi
Media: Lambda print
Size: Sheet 148×185cm
Price: EUR 20,500 (framed, excl. VAT)
I had a dream–I think it was probably six or seven years ago. I remembered the dream clearly because the internal scene was so powerful, so beautiful it was almost scary. About six months later, as I was drinking my coffee on a Sunday morning, idly watching TV with my head still half-asleep, I was surprised to suddenly see the image from that dream reappear. It was a scene of many people and horses together in a green meadow before a large mountain–a place called Aso.
I immediately typed “Aso” into an Internet search engine, to learn that it is a town in southern Japan, one of the regions where yakihata takes place–controlled agricultural burning, in which fields are burned in advance of planting. I had always been interested in yakihata and had long wanted to witness this farming ritual. With these two key words having lined up, I decided that I had to go. That was in 2007. I found out that yakihata takes place every year in March, and so I first visited Aso in March of 2008.
During my first visit, I wasn’t able to see the green field of my dream, and perhaps because it was so cloudy and cold, there were no tourists. Standing by myself, solitary in that vast land, the feeling that I was living on this planet called Earth suddenly welled up inside me. Since I had never paid any attention to such thoughts in my everyday life, it was something of an odd sensation–the awareness that my legs were, at that very moment, being pulled by gravity toward the Earth.
And with the yakihata taking place before my eyes, I had another realization. The force of the flames burning up the vast grassland was far stronger than I had imagined. Witnessing the landscape completely burnt to pitch black, I was seized by the illusion that I myself had burned up. It was a refreshing sensation, as if the self I had been up until that time was no longer–that I had been reborn anew.
Over the five years since then, I have often visited during other seasons, not just during the burning, hoping to see other aspects of this region. The other subjects I photographed during this same period–planetariums, night Kagura dances, the sky seen from my home, even the Western Wall in Jerusalem–all lie in a haphazard array with seemingly nothing to connect them. But when lined up on a single time axis something can be read from these things, too.
For example, there is an invisible point of tangency between apparently unrelated things. I investigate the connection between dreams and reality; I consider the beginning of things. Through 1,300 years of field burning, human ritual has sustained a beautiful meadow, which cattle graze on, and people in turn receive a bounty from the cattle–an interconnected chain. The ceremonies that are ceaselessly passed down over the generations, the habits, traditions, and such things are the product of prayers and wisdom that help people survive.
In the freezing cold of deep winter, when people surrender themselves to unconsciousness from dancing through the night, perhaps they become a pillar of light that connects heaven and Earth. This is not done for the benefit of anyone. It is a veneration of the invisible world that has continued since the distant past, in small villages, nestled deep inside the hills.
The sunset I see from the window of my home tonight is similar but different from the view I saw yesterday. Every day is a continuum of new days, each somehow different from the next. How can we say that there is no connection between those who pray in a far-off land and me, watching the sunset in Tokyo, and feeling grateful at the end of the day? Throughout the world, we are comrades who share grace, and share as well the challenge to overcome any number of different obstacles. Even if our paths never cross, we who exist now on the same Earth certainly share something, a shared time and a shared space.
About the Artist
The artist was born in Shiga, Japan, in 1972. She currently lives and works in Tokyo.
Kawauchi burst on the international scene in 2001 when she was awarded the Kimura-Ihei-Prize, Japan’s most important emerging talent photography prize, shortly followed by the simultaneous publication of three beautiful books, Utatane (Catnap), Hanabi (Fireworks), and Hanako, her very personal study of a young girl of the same name. Met with great critical acclaim, these “visual essays” demonstrate her finesse and skill of telling a photographic tale. Since this triple-debut, the artist has gone to publish another eleven books, the newest of which are Illuminance and Ametsuchi.
Kawauchi, currently one of the most famed contemporary female Asian artists, is a recipient the eminent Annual Infinity Award (2009) from New York’s International Centre of Photography, in the category Art, and similarly was shortlisted in 2012 for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize. She has joined and held many group and solo shows both at home and abroad, with major solo exhibitions in the Fondation Cartier pour l’art Contemporain in Paris, London’s The Photographers’ Gallery, the Hasselblad Centre in Gothenburg, Semear Museu de Arte Moderna de Sao Paulo, the Vangi Sculpture Garden Museum in Shizuoka, or Brussels’ ARGOS Centre for Art & Media. Major group exhibitions to date include those at Munich’s Haus der Kunst, the Huis Marseille in Amsterdam, Museum of Contemporary Art, in Tokyo, Toyota Municipal Museum of Art in Aichi, or the Brighton Photo Biennial 2010: New Documents. Her unique approach is like a “drawing senses”, embracing motifs of everyday details as well as cycle of life and its transience, and has been admired by art lovers all over the world.
ABOUT THE GALLERY
Christophe Guye Galerie is a contemporary art gallery, representing national and international artists who consider the medium of photography within the larger context of current art practices. First and foremost conceptual artists who choose to express their vision through the use of a camera or light sensitive materials, the works of these emerging talents, as well as mid-career and established artists, notably contribute to the historical discourse of art, as well as to the expanding medium of photography and to the evolution of contemporary art at large.
Founded by Christophe Guye in 2006 – former SCALO|GUYE Gallery – in Los Angeles, the gallery moved to its current location in Zurich/ Switzerland in 2010. With five to seven shows per year, the programme varies between solo and group exhibitions that include works by gallery as well as guest artists and are occasionally organised by invited curators. In addition, the gallery embraces the long-term counselling of collections and the fostering of new collectors, as well as the curating and organising of exhibitions in collaboration with institutions, museums, and partner galleries.