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An Interview by Het Parool
Today, a correspondent of Het Parool, a Dutch news paper company, came for an interview.
It was not about art but about my room, for their feature article about rooms of foreign residents in Amsterdam.
Why me? – there must be tons of foreigners living in Amsterdam... but I said ‘yes’ out of curiosity (mainly towards myself).
Het Parool called me beforehand:
H: Do you have anything ‘Japanese’ in your room?
I: I have Uchiwa (paper fan) and Aodake (green bamboo log).
H: .... What did you buy for your room since you came here?
I: Um... nothing. What I added to my room are the things I picked up on the streets and the things I was given.
H: .... Do you have anything nice in your room?
I: I am sorry... as I spend most of my time in my studio, I have not done much to my apartment...
Hearing this, they decided to come to my studio instead of my apartment.
What are they going to write? Will it be OK? In any case... thank you for coming to see me. The article will be in the first Saturday paper in September. I am not quite sure if I can get hold of it as I’ll be in China... that’s a pity.
This was the image appeared in the newspaper.
On the night before, I had a quarrel with a friend and wept my eyes out. Without any notice, they called me all of a sudden and said ‘Do you have time today?’ and I ended up having a photo taken for the article.... Oh no.
This is Sunday
This is Sunday. Nobody is at Rijks today. It’s raining.
For about two weeks, it has been raining and cold – it’s about 16 degrees though. I am wearing my coat and scarf. The heat of the last month feels like something happened a year ago....
I was thinking nobody would be here today, but after a while Gal came and we had some tea together. We talked about this and that but nothing in particular – the progress of our works etc.
We often had tea together in my studio during the war in Israel which ended last month. As I wrote before, Gal is from Israel.
She said ‘I’m anxious. I can’t settle to work. I’ve been calling my family a lot.’
I didn’t know what I could say to her. All I could do is to offer her some sweets (‘Yokan’ – soft Adzuki-bean jelly – which my friend sent to me). We looked at the package (as it is beautiful), and talked about our family and friends in our home countries. As I listened to what she said about her family, I realised that since she was born, a war has been a part of her daily life.
After a while, Gal said ‘I feel a bit more relaxed now’ and she went back to her studio.
After she left, I wrote email to my friend to thank for Yokan.
The other day, I received an email from my friend – ‘Kawachi-san, you can watch Byakuyako on You-tube’ – an invitation from a devil.
Once I know that for sure, I’ll end up watching it day and night....
I pretended that I do not know such a thing during the day. After sunset, I sat in front of my PC and searched... here it is Byakuyako. Oh my God.
‘There was no sun above us.
Always night, but it was not dark’ – !!??
‘We could live believing it is a day.
It was not bright,
But light enough to make our way’ – !!??
Oooooooh !! This is more than enough to attract the audience!! This is amazing from the very beginning.
It is sensational, but not quite sharp or shocking. It is more like... it leaves a sense of agony, palpable and sustained. It is superb. The first episode is particularly good.
Fortunately, there were only first four episodes on You-tube. I didn’t have to stay up till dawn.
The way this drama draws the audience to its world – the sense that I too am violating taboos – is real (although I am not saying the story is realistic). I think the presence of Tetsuya Takeda and Kaoru Yachigusa has a lot to do with the reality of this drama. This is something that Shinji Nojima cannot do. Umm... very interesting.
I felt as though I went home for bon-holidays. I’ll watch them all when I get back to Japan.
With a cup of Bancha
I watch Byakuyako
Holding my knees
Printing is Done!
Today, finally, we finished the printing job for the drawing books (note 1) in Utrecht. What a great sense of achievement...! I don’t have to work like a factory girl any more.
I was still working on the drawing this morning (the last day of printing) before leaving for Utrecht... I managed to finish it, and now it is done. This sense of achievement is something I haven’t experienced since I worked on the opening of Trace Gallery. When we finished, we bought some cakes and had a celebration.
In two weeks time, we’ll start the next process – folding these papers for binding. It will take forever... but... never mind!
Note 1: Since April, I’ve been working on the project of making a drawing book which Iwan started. We started the printing job last month, three times a week in the print workshop called GAU in Utrecht.
There are 96 pages in a book, and there will be 200 editions (lots!), hand silk. 9 artists are participating in this project – artists as well as those who are not artists (friends of Iwan).
As I don’t usually work on drawing – according to Iwan, a work about lines -- it was hard for me to make some drawings for a book.
I was also confused by the way the drawings inevitably change through the process of printing and binding; but it was a good opportunity – I think I learned to think both about what I am seeing and what I am not yet seeing. It was also interesting to see drawings by other people go through the same process of changes. But I wonder... will anybody buy this?
It seems that Iwan sees this book as an ‘art work’ (a print work) but I see this more as a project. But... after all, both of us are working towards the same goal, simply to see what we want to see.
‘I want to kill you!!’ -- it was yesterday
Now we watch
I’ve borrowed Yasujiro Ozu DVD set from the library.
This is my fourth time.
The collection of DVD at Rijks is surprisingly small as an art institution, but as I am too lazy to visit the rental DVD shop, and also as it is too expensive (€3.7=¥530 for a night, €4.5=¥650 for a new work), I ended up borrowing the same DVD from the library.
What I like about Ozu’s film is the dialogue.
A dialogue neither to dramatize the scene nor to carry out the plot... but it is the dialogue – never extraordinary exchange of words – between members of family, between neighbours, between friends that carry out the film. The dialogue makes the rhythm of Ozu’s film – a very pleasing rhythm – something like... a cat touches a person very lightly with its tail in passing.
I also like the scenes where young Setsuko Hara larks around with her friends – kind of innocently and playfully.
By the way, I like watching baseball games, but I also like playing catch.
A sequel to the story:
I passed this Ozu DVD set to Gal, and started to watch an Indian film Mahabharat (also from the library, 5 DVDs – 15 hours), which (it says) is an epic about a king of India and his royal family.
It was more like watching my favourite lunchtime drama... than watching an epic.
Coming Up – English Version
There will be an English version of this diary. It is in progress now.
The idea came up when I was talking to Ansuya, one of the advisors, at the beginning of this year.
At that time, I was trying to reconsider the process of how I make paintings – how I get the idea for my work, and how I put a title to my painting etc. Also, there were more and more works of mine that I found hard to work out. Seeing me (rather stubbornly) call some of the three dimensional works ‘drawings,’ it seems that Ansuya guessed that the problem of the language has something to do with my confusion. She said, ‘Tomoko, why don’t you try to write something... a small text in Japanese?’
I wasn’t quite sure if this diary is what Ansuya means as a text but I said, ‘I’ve been writing a text... though it is a text for my weblog, with some drawings (real drawings in this case).’ ‘That’s very nice! Why don’t you hire a translator and translate it?’
Working with a translator -- it’s an interesting idea but... to be honest, I have not thought much about non-Japanese readers (they can always enjoy the drawings and can probably pick-up some English words). Again, I did not do anything. When I saw her in May, this time, she said ‘Why don’t you ask Yuka?’
Yuka-chan is a friend of mine, a wife of Koizumi Meiro-kun who is at Rijks now. She is working on a research on English literature. Once we found out that my favourite book was also her favourite, so I thought ‘Probably it is fun to work with Yuka-chan.’ I talked about this project with her and we decided to go for it. Rijks supported this project by providing some budget.
With the help of Takagi Hideaki-kun from Art Trace (he made a new webpage for the diary), the project began in June.
And now... it is already August.
Today, I read the English version for the first time. The first thing that I came up to my mind was... ‘Oh no...! Who’s this person speaking in English??!!’
But as I read through I am getting used to this person called ‘Tomoko’ who is speaking (writing) in English.
Now I am looking forward to the day this diary is available in English.
My writings are rather simple... so it may also be interesting to Japanese readers who want to learn some English.
The telephone cord
It’s too long
-- and a year has passed