A lot of interesting episodes occurred during the creative process as well. One of the rules I made for the creative process was that the structure would be that when someone began doing a particular pattern of movement, others would react to that with a different movement and that process would continue, but the person who set the original movement pattern that became the standard the others work from [reacted to] would constantly be changed, from one person to another. Naturally, there would be some people who would have a hard time memorizing movement patterns and others who had trouble staying on beat. When I didn’t say anything, some people would criticize and complain, “Our movement progression gets broken and stops because that person can’t do it.” But for me the important thing isn’t whether the participants can do the movement patterns they are instructed to do, but the act of concentrating on the movement of other people and the music and then reacting to it. The fact is that a work takes on a greater sense of expansiveness when the people who can’t do these things are taken as the standard rather than those who can. In fact, during the actual performance, I felt that this contributed to greater diversity within the work and brought a greater sense of richness to the “music” in the performance space. The kind of phenomena that transcend the imagination of the audience and makes them think, “What is this person?” actually begins from the peculiarities of each individual. So, it is not a question of what my initial expectations are at first; what is interesting is when the performance start a flow of its own and begins producing things that could not occur in any other situation but this.
I am told that the local reviews of the work were split between positive and negative ones, but the critics were trying to read it as stories of immigrants in Belgium, and I understand their desire to see it as a reflection of issues in contemporary society.
Of course, I was working from an understanding of the kind of venue that festival is and my aim was to make it a work that offered real depth of meaning/relevance when seen from a number of points of orientation. However, importance is not to be found only in a specific story. What I did with this work is what I am always doing: simply to create “situations” that create “phenomena” in which various things interact, simultaneously causing some things to take form and others to be destroyed.
Were there any new discoveries for you from this work (“Composite”) in which the participants were adults with various differing attributes?
Well, one thing I felt strongly this time was that in essence adults and children are the same. I often have opportunities to do works with children. But when you have adults with such diverse attributes as we had this time, it is equally difficult to form a cohesive group because the rules that each individual is used to living by can’t be applied. From the beginning they are separate individuals with different orientations. I was grateful for the way they all worked together despite their individual insecurities. By the end, we all developed very friendly relationships.
The outlook going forward
You will be participating in the Sapporo International Art Festival (from August 6) for which Yoshihide Otomo is serving as guest director, and you will be doing a project in a building that was formerly a department store.
I undertook research several times since 2016 and I will be using the entire 1st floor of the now closed Kinichikan Building. And in another place there will be a small old stone storehouse of the kind that I was introduced to through the connection of an acquaintance I met in London. Both will be installations.
You were soliciting people who have memories of the place [department store].
Using the term “memories” may lead to misunderstanding, because it is not my intent to listen to stories about the place from their memories, I wanted to find hints for understanding the place. There are various traces of things that used to be there, like a place where a wall was torn out or a place where a counter appears to have stood, and I wanted to know for sure what they were. Because, things that have laid roots in a place are strong, so I have to do research and get to know them so that what I do won’t be overpowered by that strength, and so the work won’t be swallowed up completely in the stories that remain.
It is true that most of what we call regional art projects are things that revive the memories of the things long rooted in the region. But, as it was with “Age 0,” I get a feeling that your works sort of float off the ground in a way that you never know what is fact and what is not. Finally, and not only with regard to Sapporo, are there any things that you particularly want to try in the future?
There is an interesting person who raises horses on a big mountain in Aomori Prefecture, and although it is only and idea, I would like to create a work on that person’s mountain that will take about 100 years to reach completion. By the way, I call this plan “Age 100.”
So, “Age 0” and “Age 100”!
It is a vague plan that if you continued to do things like digging holes and planting, you might begin to see some kind of form might begin to reveal itself. That person is already 75 years old, and I too may not be living very long, so maybe I should start to hurry this plan along (laughs). In the end, what I want to do is things for which there is a motivation, but no objective.
festival communimusica 04 "Experimental Intersound
(2004 at Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media [YCAM])
(Mar. 2008 at ARCUS STUDIO, Ibaraki)
Photo: Yosuke Kawamura
(Feb. - Mar. 2014 at Sanno, Nishinari-ku, Osaka)
Workshop at Kayan, Mountain province, Philippines
Photo: Yasutake Watanabe