In Movie on
Last night, I saw a documentary movie, Campaign 2 by Soda Kazuhiro, and it was in many ways remarkable. First of all it was very funny. It owes a lot to the main subject, Yama san’s down to earth, understated yet dry sense of humor.
Yama san is a 46 year old man with a rather unusual history. After failing to get into the most prestigious University in Japan, the Tokyo University, 5 times, he manages to get in. This is where he meets the director of the movie Soda Kazuhiro. Soda describes him as a bohemian sort of man who he only saw at parties but never in the class rooms. As a result, he spends a few extra years to graduate. One thing we must understand is that being a graduate of the Tokyo University promises one a special social standing. Many intellectuals and bureaucrats are graduates of the institution. This peculiarity leads to his next spectacular event of becoming a city council man backed by the giant political party, LDP, which has reigned the post WWII Japan. The LDP has been covertly supported by the US ensuring its strategic role in Asia economically and militarily which of course include the nuclear polity of Japan. It represents the traditional values of the post war Japan, the consumerism and the corporatism. Soda describes his candidacy basically as a puppet of LDP faithfully following the guidelines of the machine in his campaign. This unusual event becomes Soda’s successful movie Campaign, which precedes the current film.
However, in Campaign 2, Yama san appears as an angry man–although he is always smily and likable–who is disillusioned by the corruption, the nation’s inability to deal with the nuclear accidents, the political structure which makes the meaningful political process impossible and so on. He is no longer backed by LDP. He runs as an independent candidate with 100000 Yen out of his pocket. It poignantly depicts the ridiculousness of being rational in a society where logic and humanity have ceased to be the measures of the social fabric. Yama san narrates the movie in humorously self-deprecating way, pointing out the surreal fact that the air people breath contains twice as much radio active materials as pre-Fukushima, pointing out people’s striking avoidance about the fact, pointing out the inevitable victory of the LDP candidates, pointing out the hands-on, DIY aspects of his political campaign which basically consists of himself, his wife and their sweet 3 year old boy and so on. We enter into a bizarre structure of an equilibrium where micro-managed corporate will meets bursting energy of humanity.
Soda’s shooting and editing style are also remarkable . With a very limited notice by Yama san, Soda who was in Hong Kong at the time, flies to Japan, purchases equipments and singlehandedly follows him with his camera. The movie is long (150min.) but it goes quite fast with the sense of immediacy. As Soda himself explains he does not follow a script. He dives into the scene, starts shooting without a preconceived notion, and the result is the streams of spontaneous moments letting the story flow with pleasant, often very funny accidents. But he does capture the essence of our time beautifully, yet brutally, without compromise. We see many touching moments in the interactions of the people who happen to appear in the movie. We see a chilling portrait of the machine in the interaction between the director and one of the LDP candidates.
The movie certainly shows the peculiarity of the Japanese society. However, we can easily see a parallel in any society where sheer power of money and violence overpowers the basic humanistic values: where the democratic values only exist so long as they promise to perpetuate the economic and the political structure owned by the ruling elites. Do we see Yama san’s action as a helpless attempt at changing the irreversible direction humanity is heading? Or is he a part of the awakened population which shifts the direction in which we are heading? I keep wondering. A highly recommended movie.
The movie screens at MOMA on:
And here is another old one. This was one of the very last paintings on canvas I did back back in 1995. I feel that there is a direct lineage to the sculptures I do today. When I painted it I felt that I was stepping into something different– the colors got muted and the forms were starting to emerge. Wish I can show it in person.
Here is a picture of my old painting and a detail. I took a few old works out of my storage a few months ago intending to document them but I got busy with the show and I kept procrastinating.
As I kept looking at them I was quite struck by the elements that I can still see in my current work: Some of the forms, use of lines, contrast, and so on.
And you can observe that the object like quality is actually starting to articulate themselves as the very rough texture, irregular edges, grooves and blobs. This was a year before I stated to make holes on boxes covered with plaster.Painting on canvas #1 (detail), 1995, 60 x 40 inches
Please join us for the opening reception on Thursday 10/10/13 6-8pm at Lori Bookstein Fine Art.
#76, , 2010-13, painted resin, 46 x 37 x 31 inches
Lori Bookstein Press release
October 10 – November 9, 2013
Lori Bookstein Fine Art is pleased to announce an exhibition of recent work by Hiroyuki Hamada. This is the artist’s second solo-show with the gallery.
Created from layers of plaster, resin and waxes, Hamada transforms raw materials into sculptures with impressive scale and infinite detail. Taken as a whole, the
volumes he creates vary from simple geometric forms to extremely complicated amalgamations of shaped volumes. However, upon closer inspection, the
surfaces of the sculptures reveal a myriad of individual cells replete with painted and sculpted pattern. This part-to-the-whole relationship is a theme that runs
throughout Hamada’s oeuvre, echoing the artist’s own social consciousness and his interest in the way individual contributions effect larger systems.
Executed with incredible restraint, Hamada limits himself to a neutral palette consisting primarily of black and white [and on occasion, more coppery hues].
This, along with the absence of descriptive titles – each piece is sequentially numbered as it is completed – gives the sculpture an austere quality that allows
for the viewer to bring individual significance to the work. Yet this austerity is not a perfect one. It is tinged with a timeworn patina of dented edges and
scratched surfaces, which imbues the work with wabi-sabi, the Japanese aesthetic in which beauty is imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. While this is not
a part of his conscious approach, the artist acknowledges its presence, noting that momentariness is “one of the most fundamental truths we have.”
Hamada’s work often presents itself to the viewer in seemingly opposing dualities: archaic and futuristic, natural and industrial, restrained and effusive. Indeed,
the sculptures are as familiar as they are foreign, and yet, it is this Heraclitian relationship that drives the artist’s practice. Deeply conscious of the
omnipresence of social and political issues at large, Hamada explains that within his studio he strives “to find fine balance in elements to see things being
harmonized, opposing elements coexisting in meaningful ways, richness and warmth being born out of raw materials.”
Hiroyuki Hamada was born in 1968 in Tokyo, Japan. He moved to the United States at the age of 18. Hamada studied at West Liberty State College, WV before
receiving his MFA from the University of Maryland. Hamada has been included in numerous exhibitions throughout the United States including his previous
exhibition, Hiroyuki Hamada: Two Sculptures, at Lori Bookstein Fine Art. He was the recipient of the New York Foundation for the Arts Grant in 2009 and the
Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant in 1998. Most recently, Hamada’s work was featured in Tristan Manco’s Raw + Material = Art (Thames & Hudson). The artist
lives and works in East Hampton, NY.
Hiroyuki Hamada will be on view from October 10 – November 9, 2013. An opening reception will be held on Thursday, October 10th from 6-8 pm.
Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10:30 am to 6:00 pm. A catalog of this exhibition will be available later this fall. For additional information and/or
visual materials, please contact Joseph Bunge at (212) 750-0949 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In News on
John Steppling relentlessly sheds a light on the self destructive mechanism of the corporate domination, particularly on culture and the arts. He lays out the vast desolate landscape of our time with his endless grievances of urgency and desperation. I’ve learned so much from his writings.
This particular one stops me and puts me in a deep contemplative mode since he mentions about my work in it:
I am very much excited that Steppling recognizes the value in what I do. And after reading the piece a few times, it has become clear to me that the main message I get is that we could all contribute in resisting the abuses and the limits put forth by the powerful few. It might not do any good. We might not be as popular. But we still want to stand for the wider reality beyond the corporate structure which allows our full potential as human beings.
And we are all a part of the process. The enormous violence and the unreasonable demands forced upon us by the establishment are in no way a part of the indestructible law of nature, they are merely tendencies cultivated by the power elites while the majority of us allowed that to be a part of our system.
Last night I had my recurring dream of flood again. I’ve been having this dream for a while, maybe for more than 10 years. Basically it’s a dream about big waves which swallow everything and there is nothing I can do about it. But last night it was different. The usual helplessness and the quiet acceptance of the fate was absent. The flood was coming but I was standing on a higher plane looking down on the flood approaching. And it was a night time. This one didn’t accompany the clear blue sky which I somehow associated with the flood dream. I felt uneasy and apprehensive but full of life. As the reflection of the moon delineated the rising water, I started to run, thinking that I would perhaps be saved this time. And I knew that I wasn’t alone.
Last weekend I took my kids to Adam Stennett‘s art project “Artist Survival Shack” in Bridgehampton, NY. Adam is an artist from Brooklyn. After the market crash of 2008, he had to be away from his art a little concentrating on making ends meet. This project marks his first major project in 5 years.
The past a few years have been a time of contemplation for me as well. To me, artists explore possibilities of how we can be, how we see things and how our world can be. And we depend on our radars high up in the air beyond our social restrictions, authoritative controls, religious guidances, and so on to see our own visions. We reflect the wider reality that’s in synch with the time beyond our civilization, our domestic habitats, and the corporate cage of the mainstream culture. But I feel that I am in the minority among the artists today.
I am not saying that we should all be activists or start doing political art but I find it’s so disturbing, for example, that many of us willingly support politicians who colonize other nations, cut our vital social programs in favor of wars, jail whistleblowers to torture, deceive people to pass pro corporate laws, sell our health for profits, imprison people for cheap prison labor, support political assassinations, detain human rights activists… And there is not enough outrage among us the artists. The ones who are regarded as the finest, the most respected, think nothing of bowing down to the authority, receiving medals of honor from the very culprit of the tragic decisions.
So when Adam told me about his self-sustaining off-the-grid survival shack for making his art. I immediately understood his intention. To me it is an experiment in detaching the artist from the machine. He collects rain water to bath, to cook and to water his vegetable plants. He gets electricity from the solar panel. He composts everything including his waste to fertilize his plants and to experiment with the native plant growth.
When he showed me his spud gun and a bow and arrows in his shack, I knew that he was poking fun at our helplessness and desperation against the overwhelming capability of the machine to kill and destroy.
And when he showed me a piece made with golf balls with corporate logos–Dow chemical, Lockheed Martin, Monsanto, Raytheon, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, GE and etc.–and government agency insignias, I was struck with an image in my head of the players of the deep state discussing the future of the machine.
So in short, it was really nice encountering another soul struggling to make sense out of our time: Struggling to show us our potential as artists in the sea of the corporate world.
Also, having my kids around made me realize that his shack is his “fort”. It’s a little safe place with everything he needs. No one interferes. His world is there as he dreams. It’s so great to be an artist.
Adam will have a solo exhibit showcasing the results of his month long self-sustaining survival project at Glenn Horowitz Bookseller, East Hamton Gallery, opening on 9/7/13. There will be his actual shack with the solar electric equipment, composting kit, painting studio set up, and of course his paintings done during his stay in the shack.