17 March – 10 April

Yukari Kaihori

In Searching of Deities

The non-human agent, object and our immediate environment.

The past year was eventful. In addition to Covid-19, there were many political incidents and new radical social movements all over the world. It has been overwhelming and has made us wonder whether the world has gone crazy. However, when exposed to things that can overwhelm me, I like to remind myself that I need to connect to the reality of “here and now” and not to live in my ‘headspace’ too much. If everyone were to do this then eventually each of us could realise that the reality around us is not overwhelming or in conflict with ourselves. 

How we see things depends on what and how we believe. For my project In Searching for Deities, I examine different belief systems in opposition to Kantian theories that question the human-centric view of the world. This includes Object-Oriented Ontology (OOO), the ideas of Timothy Morton and Tetsurō Watsuji, and animistic beliefs like Shintoism. In doing so, I am also seeking ways to de-link from the progressive line of modernity as discussed by Walter Mignolo, the founder of the modernity/ coloniality school of thought. Following his position, I try not to participate in a hierarchical culture structure, but instead attempt to give back the power to the objects and spaces.  

Both Timothy Morton, a philosopher who works in the field of ecological studies, and Walter Mignolo, the scholar developed the argument that modernity and coloniality come together like light and shadow. As part of this comes how the meaning of the word “genius” was changed during the Romanticism movement of the 18th Century. Originally, ‘genius’ related to the spirits or deities residing in specific places. Before the 18th Century, saying ‘she has genius’ would have meant that the artist was positively influenced by the spirits. The spirit could inspire, protect and empower a person. In this sense the idea of ‘genius’ was similar to indigenous and animistic cultural values; the power belongs to places and without spirit man did not have the power to create. Colonization and modernization changed the meaning of ‘genius’. We now say ‘she is a genius’ as if she owns and possesses the power. In this project, I intend to use artworks that draw influence from the immediate environment: the exhibition space of RM gallery that comes with local deities and is attached to the community. The intention is to bring awareness to the “here and now”- the actual place we install works and with which we interact. 

Thought is given to considering objects and spaces as possessing spirits or being deities, which may motivate us to care more for our immediate environment. We may need to be aware of our immediate space, to be living ‘now’, and to be ecological. My recent studio practice is a site-specific project concerning the ‘here and now’ of the present time and space. By paying attention to a unique object or the space that one inhabits, the individual becomes more connected to the ‘now’. This installation aims to enhance and intensify the quality and characteristics of the existing space, including residues of artworks left from artists exhibited at RM.