A Grand Moment
December 4 (Sat) – December 20 (Mon), 2021
Ryuichi Ishikawa＋Mori Nana
One must live experience. It is not easily accessible and, viewed from the outside by intelligence, it would even be necessary to see it in a sum of distinct operations…. It is only from within, lived to the point of terror, that it appears to unify that which discursive thought must separate.
––Georges Bataille, “Inner Experience”
Here, I would like to substitute the word “experience” with the phrase “a grand moment.” The keyword “grand” is derived from Ishikawa Ryuichi, and “moment” comes from Mori Nana.
Is it possible to live a grand moment at any time?
In this exhibition, Ishikawa and Mori look back at their work and search for connections based on these keywords. While the artists employ two methods of expression, photography and calligraphy, with completely different origins, there seems to be a link between them at the heart of their work.
Moreover, the exhibition not only presents Ishikawa and Mori’s works side by side, it attempts to explore the question of whether a grand moment is something that can occur at any time by arranging a meeting between the two artists as well as their first collaboration.
The first thing we need to verify is the artists’ unique worldview as human beings. It is not enough to merely consider their messages; we must interpret the meta messages.
Ishikawa is awed by “inevitability.” This is clear from the fact that he recalls his first encounter with the camera as a “chance event.”
Ishikawa encountered people, buildings, plants, animals, and every other kind of living and non-living thing in his native Okinawa. He confronted these subjects head on, shooting them in a way that made it seem as if he had assimilated their existence. This approach remains unchanged in his latest series, The Inside of Life. I am not referring here to the technical aspects of Ishikawa’s photography, but rather the way in which he conveys his encounters with his subjects or the encounters themselves.
In Ishikawa’s statement in the photo book A Grand Polyphony, he relates how, while embracing a historically enacted “sense of frustration,” “we” wait for “those extraordinary moments that are not supposed to occur” – i.e., chance events. To avoid any misunderstanding, I think it would be fair to say that in shooting his photographs Ishikawa attempts to free himself from the inevitability of his own life (the things that are related to no one but Ishikawa Ryuichi as a person born in a particular place and time), and “discard [the] experiences and the concepts that have accumulated as much as [he] can and face the present moment.”
We might say that the “grand” scenes in A Grand Polyphony (contained in this exhibition) are significant in that Ishikawa frees himself from the inevitability of life (i.e., death), and captures something that seems accidental and filled with surprise (i.e., the chance nature of life) each time he presses the shutter.
On the other hand, Mori Nana is awed by “chance events.” This is clear from the fact that she recalls her first encounter with calligraphy as an “inevitability.”
Born into a family that made their living as calligraphers, and well acquainted with the medium since early childhood, Mori first produced work by pursuing the formal essence of calligraphy from the outside. Then, in making her final work for graduate school at Tokyo University of the Arts, Mori says that she became obsessed with the notion that “the only way I could move forward was to confront calligraphy from the inside.”
Mori intuitively believes that the essence of calligraphy is to “lay your life on the line” (i.e., the inevitability of life), and she pursues the formal essence of medium as a one-time-only event from the inside. Using sumi, paper, and a brush, Mori says that in the process of repeatedly making calligraphy and physically grasping an image that springs forth from the lines in a one-time-only act with a beginning and an end, there is a “moment,” between the conscious and unconscious, in which “it takes shape somewhere beyond.”
Mori says her works “could not be any other way,” and she avoids titles (giving them a title makes her feel uncomfortable). To avoid any misunderstanding, although it might seem as if her works are completely meaningless, they might be seen as an attempt to imbue the one-time-only quality of calligraphy’s formal essence with the moment at which Mori documents the inevitability of her life (i.e., death).
When we view the two artists’ works on level ground, it is probably fair to say that Ishikawa’s “grand” scenes can be interpreted as “chance=life,” and Mori’s “moments” can be interpreted as “inevitability=death.”
What links the two is a one-time-only quality. This quality is the formal state of our lives and deaths. Thus, we might say that grand moments are the gap between life and death – or the very act of living.
What makes the artists’ works so powerful is that they present us with one-time-only life and one-time-only death in a material or physical form.
It is impossible to critique the artists’ works in isolation from life and death. This is because their unique approaches encompass life, death, and in the truest sense of the word, human awe.
Those of us who present the things that the two people make owe them a great debt. That is certainly true for me.
December 4 (Sat) – December 20 (Mon), 2021
13:00 - 20:00
The 5th Floor: Hanazono Alley 5F 3-3-9 IkenohataTaito-ku Tokyo
4 minutes walk from Exit 2 of Nezu Station (Chiyoda line)
※Students are Free
The 5th Floor、HB. (HB. Collective)
AKAAKA ART PUBLISHING Inc, Zekkeisha, Shunkansha
Public information design