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  • Dialogue 2
  • Lee Ufan and Suga Kishio, with Mika Yoshitake
    Translated by Reiko Tomii with Mika Yoshitake

I would like to first ask about the location of artistic labor in each of your works. Rather than actively “making” objects, you often present and re-present a perceptual structure or situation within which objects exist in relation to space. In both Relatum (formerly Phenomena and Perception B) (1969, pl. 5) and Law of Situation (1971, pl. 4), there is a formal resemblance in the way a stone rests upon a reflective surface.

But in Lee’s Relatum, one senses a tension between two static objects (stone and glass) based on prior acts of dropping the stone and breaking the glass.

For Suga, the “work” begins after you have set up your materials by releasing the objects to the forces of time and gravity, creating a situation in which the work is activated by the streaming movement of water oscillating between stones and flatbed fiber. Here I am thinking of your concept of release (hōchi). For each of you, where does the artistic labor (the “work”) reside in articulating each perceptual structure?


You spoke about “making” and “not making,” and indeed, Mono-ha tends to waver between “making” and “not making.” I believe this is what constitutes the type of artists we are.

There is a context to this wavering in that “making” is related to the modern idea of production in which a thing is consolidated or completed as an ideal object. Thus, “not making” is a protest against “making” in the modern sense, a protest against production and completion. Of course, we Mono-ha artists use our hands and make things, but we don’t call this “making.” Our works differ from the modern sense of progressively transforming an idea [and projecting it] onto an object.

As my work titles indicate, I emphasize and hold value in the concepts of relatum, combination, collision, or encounter in my work. This does not entail a one-sided production; there is always a counterpart. There is always an interiority of thoughts from inside myself, [End Page 228] as well as those outside myself in which a dialogue or exchange between them will result in an expression. So I do not single-handedly build my ideas into something perfect.

As artists, we constantly negotiate between the self/ego and nature, and our work (artistic labor) involves being a messenger, a mediator, an intermediary of this. This is what I believe constitutes my, as well as our, position.


One thing that always concerns me is how a human being unconsciously takes a breath when he or she is born. By breathing, one lives on of course, but this unconscious nature or sensation remains as we grow older. The state of seeing for the first time, or the state of perceiving, the act of grasping something or looking at something—each of these states and acts themselves—is related to a certain unconscious nature.

I think people certainly possess an understanding of their life range, or the realm of capacity in which they will live. That arises naturally. As I have mentioned, we automatically take up our own physical acts/movements once we are born. I believe this to be, no doubt, the best condition and space for ourselves. Also, I think at a certain point in the process of growing older, we begin to recognize what we are interested in and how this is related to ways in which we come to understand and situate the object of our interests.

Suppose we have grasped this realm of our own surroundings, in which we sense that our surroundings are joined together and unified. That is to say, when an entirety is formed by connected elements, we feel this sense of place around us. Most probably, we cannot be interested in each and every part of the whole. We have an interest in some parts but not in others. This is how we create our surroundings. In other words, a surrounding is a kind of world. Some artists say that they make their own worlds. However, I think the world already exists around...


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pp. 228-231
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