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  • Dialogue 1
  • Sekine Nobuo and Koshimizu Susumu, with Joan Kee
    Translated by Rike Iezumi Hiro (bio)
Kee:

It seems that you regard photography as more than simply a means of documentation. Some images of your Phase—Mother Earth (1968) (pl. 3), for example, seem intended to emphasize its size, and perhaps more importantly, the scale of the cylinder in relation to the viewer. A similar effect is evident in Koshimizu’s work, where a female viewer is shown crouching next to the work (fig. 20.1). In many instances, the images force the viewer to pay attention to the ground in a way that is at odds with the insistence on verticality that was so visible in mid-1960s Tokyo, especially after 1964 when skyscrapers were first allowed and following the proliferation of Metabolist architecture. What kind of story did you want these images to tell?


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Figure 20.1.

Koshimizu Susumu, Paper (formerly Paper 2), 1969. Paper, granite, paper; 274.3 × 274.3 cm. Installation view, Trends in Contemporary Art, National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, 1969.

Photo: Koshimizu Susumu.

Sekine:

Part of your question touches upon the issue of scale. I don’t think that we were influenced by Metabolism, including Tange Kenzō’s architecture. My immediate interest, particularly for Phase—Mother Earth, lay in the earth. I dug a hole and piled dirt from the digging right next to the hole. From the beginning, I envisioned their positive-negative states. The tension of this relationship exists at the horizon, at the level of the ground. That is to say, I was strongly interested in Earth and the ground. [End Page 223]


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Figure 20.2.

Sekine Nobuo creating Phase-Mother Earth, 1968.

Photo: Koshimizu Susumu.


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Figure 20.3.

Koshimizu Susumu, Perpendicular Line 1, 1969. Brass, piano wire; brass weight: 8 × 8 cm, piano wire: 300 cm. Installation view, Muramatsu Gallery, 1969.

Photo: Koshimizu Susumu.

Koshimizu:

You have just seen some process photographs of making Phase—Mother Earth. They capture Sekine, Yoshida Katsurō, me, as well as my girlfriend and Sekine’s (fig. 20.2). We all worked together. Day after day, we used our bodies and shovels confronting the ground, that is Earth. We dug and lifted up the dirt, that is, Earth. We kept doing that. We were younger and more energetic back then. I believe that the photographs indicate how affected we were by the earth and the ground. What we captured therein was something that certainly existed in the earth, the extent to which we could approach it and its significance. Therefore, we never considered our work vis-à-vis the contrast between the eternal expanse and vertically rising buildings. What we learned through our labor of hole digging was that the most important thing was that which actually existed there and its relationship to human beings. From this very experience, Yoshida, Sekine, and I started seriously contemplating “What are our own expressions and wherein do they lie?” Through the experience of hole digging, we sensed that we had surely grasped the answer, although invisible, with our hands.

Kee:

At times, your works are characterized as “Non-Art” (Hi-geijutsu), but that doesn’t seem very accurate, because you are still responding to spaces identified as venues for the display of art (e.g., museums and galleries). And your works aren’t really everyday objects nor are they appropriations of such. I wonder whether your works are, in fact, a refusal of the distinction between Art [End Page 224] (geijutsu) and Anti-Art (Han-geijutsu), something that is evoked by the refusal to make, or as you have mentioned, “not making.” Could you comment on this?

Koshimizu:

“Not making” mono, or a thing, to put it another way, means not manipulating or twisting the meaning of the thing (fig. 20.3). Thus, when we express in words the situation that channels the language of the thing as it is, we say, “not making.” In reality, we use our hands extensively and what we do is very artistic. However, we do not remove or twist the meaning...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2329-9770
Print ISSN
0913-4700
Pages
pp. 223-227
Launched on MUSE
2014-10-01
Open Access
No
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