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              2018    O.BURAKHMEDI

              1998    ERIC MEZIL

              1996    M.MIYATAKE

              1995    A.M.WEAVER

              1994    Y.KURABAYASHI

              1994    S.WATANABE

              1990    W.SOZANSKI

1980      1979    OTHERS     BIBLIO|TEXT

BIO   2022  THE NOW IS     寿限無寿限無


​Yasushi Kurabayashi/1994

 Hiroshi Kariya

 Hiroshi Kariya's solo exhibition, "In Memory of 1992", was simply striking. The exhibit spaces were found on the first and third floors. On the first floor was "18 Wraps". Eighteen bodies made of trash bag, transparent plastic sheet, canvas, paint cloth, and cardboard, filled with discarded object, and plaster debris with photo trash are lay there. The bodies wrapped with string and attached to them was a number of small blackboards on which English text was roughly chalked. One naturally presumes that there must be some important messages for people and society.

 On the third floor is "415 Palestinians". Different sizes of blackboards with text occupy every wall. There are scandalous words like "killing", and pieces of newspapers are pasted on some of the boards. Many of them deal with murders, riots and wars. This sinful conduct seems to have been sealed inside the form of the text by the artist's intense power. The space is filled with sheer silence, but there seem to be countless unheard screams-scream of silence. These reflects the sinful activities that electrify the space.

 Hiroshi Kariya subtitles this exhibition "News Paintings Sculptures". Why is it news? He writes down phrases taken from newspapers and magazines. The words were conceived from the desire to convey the truth, so his works are 'news' paintings and sculptures. He wants to convey, in the form of art, the derp anger and sorrow that are felt somewhere in the world every day.

 The idea that underlies Kariya's works is truly unique and, in a sense, complex. "The theme of my work is writing (recording), its process and its image. The theme of this work is living (engraving), its process and its image." The act of writing (recording) refers to copying the sutras in Buddhism. He calls his work 'sutra'. "'Sutra' means in Sanskrit thread or string, and it means that are used to bind papers written with teaching of life." Copying the sutras is a memorial service for the dead and offering of prayer or wishes. While irs purpose is to pass on the sutra from generation to generation, it is more meaningful in making the mind of the copier and his surrounding environment more peaceful. That the conduct of copying is more important than the result of the copied text itself, seems contradictory to us. Here, writing is living and act becomes s prayer.

 Looking from the Buddhist world view, all the incidents in the world are closely related to each individual by fate. All things in nature and material are connected through chains of cause and effect. Any activity, including violence, wars, or atrocities are linked with individual desires. Everyone shares responsibility for all the events in the world. They should be regarded as the result of 'karma' and were generated by each individual's desire. I believe this is the world view, a view of life and ethics that does not exist in the West. Kariya offers his spiritual prayer to world events in this context.
Behind this philosophy is Asian monism that goes beyond the dualism of matter and spirit, of us and them. In this world, individual 'spirit' and phenomena are inseparable. The world is based on the integration of time and space. However, in the world of matter, everything happens at this point in time. Kariya contributes "One Piece Lotus Sutra" as an expression of living here now. He has been keeping a journal ever since he moved to the U.S. in 1977. The sutra expands its limitless circles as it repeats: "the now is the now is the now is the now is the ..."

 Since 1977, he has been making various sutra pieces. Thy have different names according to materials that the sutras are written on. "Drifted Wood Sutra", "Tree Ring Sutra", "Stone Sutra", "Circling Sutra", "Memorial Service to Waste Sutra", "Seed Sutra", "The Prayer Sutra", "Breath Off On Sutra", etc, "Seed Sutra" for example, is a "sutra written on handful of beans once a day".

 Another of Kariya's sutras is "Blackboard Sutra", in which he writes down or cuts out phrases from newspapers and magazines and pastes them on blackboards. His work is created out of his daily routine rather than from a more deliberate intent. Literally, the action comes before the result. All the materials used in his works are waste, and used in new works after use, or used for different purposes. This expresses a cycle of 'material' or 'life' between the material world and the non-material world, and death and resurrection.
At the same time, the waste placed in the exhibit space is literally 'dead' in the present material world, and shows that today's 'death' creates a horrible scene.


 Kariya's work stands at the point where various phenomena generated in the 'present' world are expressed through matter and words. In Memory of 1992", the eighteen bodies are labelled Somali, Somalia, 3 Turks, Temple, Country Called Kurdistan, Russia is Russia, Angola, El Salvador, Cambodia, Wraps, Bosnia, Homeless, Radiation, Wasting Away, Asia AIDS, Mother. "Mother" represents Kariya's mother, who passed away that year, and his personal experience with 'death'. This work shows the 'death' that takes place in the world. (A switched-on TV near his mother is a reference to daily continuity, from today to tomorrow ...) Each text is a quote from a newspaper article about human bodies. "3 Turks" was conceived after he read an article about three Turks killed by Neo Nazis. (The following year discovered that this was false, made up events)

 His solo exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) Philadelphia in 1990 was about the circulation of substances that use waste, and showed that time is both eternal and only exists now. He utilized the waste generated from Ilya Kabakov's solo exhibition, which was previously at the same site. It was a typical installation, one that implemented the idea of the circulation of substances. The wall that was installed for Kabakov was torn down, and Kariya reused the wood and the plaster board. When tearing it down, Kariya drew crisscross lines on the wall and wrote text and numbers in each block. He reinstalled the wall in big chunks, and laid the boards side by side according to size. Moreover, eight hundred small plaster pieces were numbered and stamped, then ICA sold them for 1 person limited $1 each with only current $1 bill only. The profits were used to cover the cost of Kabakov's wall materials.

 The following installation was created next to "Re-Member (Kabakov's Wall)" by reusing the Kabakov's wall. In "Spring of 8,000 Years, Autumn of 8,000 Years", pieces of wood from the waste were decoatively arranged in six horizontal rows, and a number of scrolls spread to various lengths were placed on the floor. ("Is the now..." sutra is written on each wooden piece and scroll. The sutras on the scrolls were written while the artist was on the way to wash paints off the brushes he used for writing sutra on the wooden pieces.)

 The various sutra pieces, including 'Drifted Wood Sutra' and 'Tree Ring Sutra' were written on drifted wood and tree slabs. Another sutra text started from the center of a round rock and spiraled back to the center of the reverse side. A hole pierced the center of the rock to emphasize the flow. Other sutras were written on everything from small containers like ink bottles, light bulbs, postcards, and bones. Also displayed in circles were one hundred small pieces of limestone, each covered with sutra, and 'Seed Sutra', a hundred handfuls of about one hundred beans covered with sutra, top and bottom.

 One characteristic of Kariya's work is its air of magic and ritual. Characters that through their undulating fitness and obsession almost look like Arabic script, are possessed with the magic that ideographs can have. Objects found in daily life, once imbued with writing, seem to go beyond the 'material' dimension and possess a special feeling of both materiality and non-materiality.

 His way of placing materials in a room with a clear plan seems to follow the rituals of various ethnic groups, including native Americans. The placement of each object is based on Kariya's intentions. In trying to describe all the meanings, one realizes that Kariya's works are so vast that they can be captured only with an enormous amount of explanation. But only Kariya himself is to be loaded with the meaning of all his actions. Kariya's work is an action complete in itself with its own complete meaning, so in that sense it may tear down the basic assertion of western aesthetics, presentation of an expression and its receipt. Kariya's art suggests a new possibility for art, in which specific meaning or expression is not only delivered to a recipient, but the existence of the work and viewer's act of receiving the work as it is, make the art come into being.

 The installation at Mito is basically an extension of his past activities but further expanded with greater expressivity. The installation consists of various elements which will be called "Gate of Bandage and Gauze", "Frag of Bandaids", "Wall of the World", "Wall of Red Cross", "Stretcher", "Hundred Body Wraps", "Flower, Candle and Chalk Titles", "collapsed Girl and Vulture Waiting", "Wall of Bosnia", "Wall of UN", "Wall of Sand Bags", "Window of Turks", "Wall of Protest", "Class Room  with Labyrinth", "Desk and Chair Under Repair", "Wall of Graffiti". There will also be blackboards with various writings, bodies wrapped in cloth, bloody gauze with some bandaids, images of stretcher and Red Cross mark, plates covered with written protests, sticks, cloths and sandbags, images of empty warehouses in the UN's peace keeping operations and messages of mourning expressed with flowers and chalk text. Viewers will surely be impressed by these layers of objects and images.

 The final room of the exhibition is called "Classroom with Labyrinth", with desks and chairs placed in a maze pattern to obstruct one's way. This room is also striking. There are blackboards covered with newspaper clippings that bear words like "religion", "environmental law", "nation", "ethnicity", "race", politics", city water", "education", "food" and "poverty". The desk drawers contain Time, Life, the National Geographic, the New York Times, Asashi Shimbun, a world Atlas, social science and natural science books, and books on religion. In one of the desks is a switched-on flashlight that lights used batteries. The four walls are covered with graffiti in various languages. There is a landscape tripod-scope with a telescope placed near the entrance, through which one can see the pasted newspaper cutout on the blackboards. It reads 'future'.

 Kariya's works do not present a world situation that is looked at 'objectively'. Instead he strives to grasp the world as a whole, including his existence. This would bring about a new viewpoint, one that is not found in the art works of the West. This kind of viewpoint, I believe, will be important in building the future world. Kariya's works present a consistent perspective of the 'future', which we all have to face sooner or later. Quiet but assertive, his works have a rare quality that shakes us to the roots of our being.

 The most typical example of sharing problems is Kariya's work. He believes that any world event is connected him by karma. It is Asian monism of matter and spirit that is imbedded in his work instead of the Western dualism of subject and object.

Yasushi Kurabayashi

1994, Catalog Essay "Open System" Art Tower Mito, page 67, 68, 69


​Yasushi Kurabayashi/1997

Tripartite Unity of "the now is"

Catalog essay by Yasushi Kurabayashi

  Humans don't die.

  This is the first statement in artist Hiroshi Kariya's text

entitled “The now is” or "Present" in his solo exhibition at Mizuma Art Gallery in 1994. I am thoroughly attracted to his conclusions. The statement reflects the artist's life and the condensed experiences of his thought and prayer in which his works have been woven.

  Today one is not supposed to interpret an artist's work with a knowledge of his or her personal life. Times have changed since we had "tragic painter" Van Gogh and "cursed painter" Gauguin. The creators' attitude of tapping into their private lives for sources of their works, such as the "I story" that was popular in Japan around Taisho and early Showa periods (1910s--1930s), is now rejected. The sentimental attitude of reading stories and dramas into one's work certainly has been overcome. At the same time, the more highly philosophical idea of recognizing the inseparability be- tween an artist's life and his/her creative activities is neglected. While it is true that a work of art exists inde- pendently at the moment of completion, the creation itself is clearly generated from the artist's creative conduct which is impacted by his/her daily life and thought, bodily makeup and general existence in this world. Ignoring this inseparability and only looking at the works causes a big obstacle in interpreting the artworks of certain kinds of artists.

  Hiroshi Kariya would be one of such artists. Shocked by the images of illustrated hell shown to him by his grandmother when he was small, Kariya has been intrigued by a poisonous fear of the idea of death. I won't go into the details of how this fear penetrated every waking moment of his later life, but his experiences must have been triggered by a raw and basic questioning of what kind of trivial meaning this life of a human being would have in this world. I'm not sure whether the statement of "Humans don't die" is a conclusion or a wish that was reached by an awakening after countless and continuous prayers. The only thing I can say is that Kariya's whole history and whole existence are staked on this thought. His creative activities and all of his works are certainly based on this statement and are implemented from there.

  In any case, does the statement "Humans don't die" hold good in this world? Human lives have been so easily taken throughout the twentieth century and that is still so. It is not enough to mention Auschwitz and Hiroshima. The issues that Kariya refers to in his works, such as the crimes against humanity in Bosnia, Palestine, Somalia, Cambodia, Angola, El Salvador, nuclear issues and AIDS, nations, ethnic groups, race, gender, violence and homicide are repeated anywhere, anytime, and people die like torn and discarded pieces of paper.

  If a proposition that "Humans don't die" holds true, this world phenomenon must be regarded as a pseudo phenomenon. However, this is neither an escapist attitude nor a hermit idea. Reality exists as facts although it might be a pseudo phenomenon. It exists only at present and repeats its existence. What seem to be humans' life and death are pseudo phenomena. Humans don't die---this is a world view relevant in Kariya's work.


  A string of words that are repeated endlessly in many of Kariya's works---"the now is"---is called “ 'the now is' sutra" by the artist, and it expresses his world view very well.

According to Kariya, creating an illusion of all at the same moment exist:

  "the" is a directing (person), demonstrative pronoun;

  "now" is an object of concept (symbol);

  "is" is present (of all beings at the same moment),


  changing movement of this world phenomena

  ---present as eternity; and is what is present, the one and only presence, that the world phenomena continue to exist at the same

time (as another, that the another does).

  Kariya's art is first and foremost the demonstrative pronoun “The." However, the function of this instruction is activated as "is" in the sense of existence as a phenomenon and in the sense of the act of creation, and this act of instruction and the work of existence itself are all subsumed by the concept of "now" in the sense of constituting "now". In this way, the three parties "the," "now," and "is" form a trinity in which they are independent and encompass each other, each being a part and a whole, or "the" is "void". The trinity of naming, concept, being or the holographic illusion.

Kariya simply making a documentation of what “THE” index is.


  It is a little complex and difficult to grasp, but let me explain in my own words. "Now" is a concept---a basic concept---that the whole universe, including us humans and every phenomenon in nature, exists as pseudo phenomenon in this world. That this basic concept works as an actual phenomenon and exists is "is." What directs and reveals this basic concept of "now" is "the." Thus Kariya's work exists first of all as a demonstrative pronoun "the." At the same time, this demonstrative function works as "is, " both in a sense of existing as a phenomenon and as a creative points to the world phenomena of expression. Such a demonstrative conduct and function of existence are all included in the concept of "now" in the sense of forming "the present." In this way, three elements of "the," "now," and "is" include each other while existing independently, and they are part of each other while each is the whole. They consist of the tripartite unity---direction, concept and existence.

  In the esoteric Shingon sect of Buddhism, its object of worship, "Dainichi Nyorai," exists as a phenomenon of "a matter, an affair, a circumstance, an event" while it is also directed as a "name." This idea is embedded in the icon in the "Kongoh" World Mandala and "Taizo" World Mandala which respectively place "Dainichi Nyorai" in the center.

The former portrays the static order of the universe, while the latter its dynamic aspect. Kariya always says his work is a sutra. It is so because the letters (words) he writes are not simply symbols, they are linked with ideas, and they continue endlessly. In a viewpoint of "the now is" sutra, which forms the core of Kariya's philosophy in his work, it would be possible to view all of his works as a mandala. When viewing it as a mandala, the idea that each is a part and the whole (which I have explained in terms of the relationship of the three words) can be well understood in the philosophy of Kariya's work, as applicable to every phenomenon in the universe. While humans are a part of the universe, we are the universe itself.


Any tiny, trifle existence in this world - even the dust in the air or a dewdrop on a leaf - is part of the universe, and at the same time, includes the whole universe. Thus, Kariya's phrase introduced at the beginning of this text: "Humans don't die" is followed by the sentence: "Humans are the universe."

  We still have another issue that we have to think about when facing Kariya's work. That is, why his philosophy comes to exist as an artwork. Sometimes Kariya calls his work or his whole solo exhibition "Engraved Time." A person is always living in the flow of "present" while being aware of its continuity. "Being aware" means that each moment is an awakening while this sense of awakening becomes unaware when it attains the normal state. Kariya compares awakening to a hit on the shoulder while meditating at a Zen temple, or wakening up in the morning, or the ringing of a telephone. That Kariya creates his work and writes sutra is also an awakening and a succession of awakenings it is the engraving of time.

  The reason why Kariya's work has overwhelming power for the viewer is because the viewer is awakened and made conscious of his/her place in the universe. Then the viewer recognizes that this moment of awakening and the awareness of it are generated by the result of the artist's tremendous labor over a long period of time. All of Kariya's works are the product of stunning continuation. When one looks at his work, she/he is first overwhelmed by what appears, and is further overwhelmed by the tremendous amount of work that has been expended.

 While any work of art is required to have some kind of visual strength, where does the power of Kariya's work come from? His work is not an indirect and abstract illustration of an artist's concept. The materials he uses blackboards, stones, discarded objects, scrap of newspaper articles, words written with a chalk, flowers are primary in his thought and are direct. In this sense, Kariya's work is realistic in the true meaning of the word. Many visitors to his exhibi- tions say that they are awe struck. So am I. I am still reminded of the shock that I experienced at his solo exhibition entitled "In Memory of 1992, " in which a number of discarded objects, wrapped up with white cloths, are put in rows, like bodies. These "bodies" are not an illustration of the artist's view on humans, but are a literal indication of a fact that humans' lives and matter circulate. No doubt this direct and shocking method generates power and over- whelms people.

  There is one last element that moves people in Kariya's work. After all, his work is positive. At his exhibit at Art Tower Mito, there was a telescope placed in the last room, and visitors would peek and see "future" written on the other end.


  It is nevertheless meaningful to ironically display atrocities and contradictions happening in this world. How- ever, I believe that a great work of art has something powerful and positive at its base regardless of how depressingly it is expressed. In order to endure doing ongoing ironical work, an artist must stay essentially positive. But, since there are so many simple, ironical works in today's contemporary art, Kariya's work is burdened with the worst atrocities and discrepancies that the twentieth century (some would argue, the most pathetic century ever), has generated. At the same time, his work offers us courage, mercy and love to directly look at and be aware of this misery. The work was nurtured from one's personal experiences, but it secretly breaks through its shell and penetrates our existence-


  "humans don't die" means "humans are the universe."

(Translation by Miki Nishizawa, aka Miki Miyatake)

Yasushi Kurabayashi

1997, Catalog Essay Tripartite Unity of "the now is"






 「415 Palestinians」と題された三階に上がってみると、こんどは壁一面に、文字を書いた黒板がびっしり並べられている。「Killing」などといったスキャンダラスな文字が目につく。ときどき新聞記事の切れ端が貼ってあるものもある。殺人や暴動や戦争を扱ったものが多い。そこには人間の罪深い行為が文字の形をとって、作者の強烈なエネルギーによって封じ込められているように思えた。会場はこのうえなく静かだ。しかしそこには同時に無数の叫びが満ちていたのではないか。沈黙の叫び。空間に帯電された、業の深い人間の生の営み。





 こうした考えの背後には、やはり、物心二元論・主客二元論を超えた東洋の一元的な思考があるといえるだろう。個人の「精神」と、世界で生起する「事象」とは、分かち難く結ばれている。そして本来、世界とは、時空を超え、時空が統一された世界を本質とするものなのである。しかしこの物質世界においては、逆に、一切は「今」という時間のなかで生起する。そこで刈谷は、今生きてここに在る、という営みの表現として、「一句蓮経」を捧げる。1977年に日本から渡米して以来、毎日さまざまなものに書き付けているのだという。「the now is the now is the now is the now is the ...」と、その経は、無限の円環を広げていく。




 廃材を使って物質の生々流転を表現すること、およびそこに経のさまざまな作品を配して、時間が悠久のものであり同時に現在性としてのみ顕在するということを表現したものとして、1990年にペンシルバニア大学のInstitute of Contemporary Art (ICA) Philadelphia で開かれた個展がある。そこでは、以前に同じ場所で行われたイリヤ・カバコフの個展のあとに出た廃材を利用した。物質の循環という思考から生まれた典型例としてのインスタレーションである。すなわち、カバコフのインスタレーションで特設された壁を取り壊し、その廃材の木材と漆喰版を使ったのである。


廃材の木片を横6列の帯状に展示し、また床に幾つもの巻物(いろいろな長さに広げられている)を置いた、「八千年の春、八千年の秋」(木材と巻物にはそれぞれ「is the now」経が書かれている。巻物のほうの経は、木材に経を書いた筆の絵の具を洗う途上で描かれた)。そして、さまざまな経の作品を、木材の自在棚や、その背後の床に並べた「経墓」。





 最後に観客が入る展示室は、勉強机と椅子が迷路のように並べられて行方を阻んでいる「迷路のある教室」と呼ばれる部分で、観る人に特に感慨を与えずにはいないだろう。それぞれの机の上には、宗教、環境憲法、国家、民族、人種、政治、City Water、Education、Food、Povertyなどという新聞活字を貼った黒板が置かれている。机の内側にはタイム、ライフ、ナショナルジオグラフィックなどの雑誌、ニューヨークタイムス、朝日新聞、社会・科学・世界地図、宗教書などが収まっている。







倉林靖 「開放系」展カタログ評論文



「the now is」の三位一体、ミヅマ画廊/1997














 刈谷の作品の多くに繰り返し書かれる「the now is」という言葉ー作家はこれを「the now is」経(スートラ)と呼ぶが、この世界観を最もよく表現している。














 刈谷自身は常に「私の作品はお経(スートラ)である」といっている。それは何よりも文字を書き、そこに単に文字の表象作用のみでない思想を付加し、切れ目のない連続とするという面からそうなのであるが、刈谷の作品思想の中心をなしている「the now is」経からみれば、彼の全作品を曼荼羅としてみることも可能ではないかと私は思う。そしてそこから見るとき、先に三つの単語の関係について述べた、それぞれが部分であり全体であるという考え方が、刈谷の作品思想の中では、宇宙内のすべての現象についてもいえることがよく理解されるのである。人間は宇宙の部分であるとともに宇宙そのものである。この世界にあるどんなに卑小で微細な存在も、空気中の塵や、葉の上に結ぶ露でさえ、宇宙の部分であるともに宇宙全体を包括する。それだから、この文章の冒頭で触れた「人間は死なない」という刈谷の言葉には、次の言葉が続いていたのだ。「人間とは宇宙のことである。」










倉林靖 「the now is」の三位一体、カタログエッセイ


2000     2020    ARCHETYPE

              2019    TWIN CODE   双生記

              2018    O.BURAKHMEDI

              1998    ERIC MEZIL

              1996    M.MIYATAKE

              1995    A.M.WEAVER

              1994    Y.KURABAYASHI

              1994    S.WATANABE

              1990    W.SOZANSKI

1980      1979    OTHERS     BIBLIO|TEXT

BIO   2022  THE NOW IS     寿限無寿限無

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