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1990
 

Contemplating, Creation, Rebirth

By Edward J. Sozanski
Article/ The Philadelphia Inquirer, newspaper, 3.18, 1990

The task that Hiroshi Kariya has set for himself is daunting- to express through art the unity of all people, places and things in the universe throughout the eons that the universe has existed.
He has confronted this task for 13 years with the compulsive steadfastness of an Eastern mystic. Kariya’s art is not concerned with object-making. It attempts to stimulate in the observer a higher consciousness akin to a state of grace, and if you sit with his work for a while, you begin to sense that this is far from an outstanding objective.

To recognize that objective, one needs at least a vague understanding of the philosophy of Kariya, who was born in Japan but who has lived in the United States since 1977. The best introduction to it is the wall text he has composed for his tripartite installation at the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania, as part of the ICA’s ongoing “Investigations” series.

The installation, which will continue through April 25, is called Sutra: One Thing in Everything, Everything in One Thing. The text, hand-printed on the wall in ink, introduces the section that occupies the upper gallery. It reads as follows:

ABANDONED, BURIED, BURNT, AND/OR LOST
In addition to the work being shown, there exists, somewhere in this universe, the work that I abandoned, buried, burned, and/or lost, which is not visible here.

In Japan, Sutra writing is occasionally performed as a mass for the dead, a prayer for the recovery of sickly person, or as a prayer for a wish to be granted.

The writers sacrifice their spirit and time for the sake of fulfilling their true wish. They commit themselves to spending a certain period of time while making an endeavor toward a certain amount of work.

Sometimes a sutra is made by means other than writing.
It may take the form of a silent prayer or action that is consciously repeated to obtain what is being focused upon.

Some works are buried underground- for that which is nature’s return to nature, the universal system. Another reason is a message for the future. It is their undeniable knowledge to resurface and be recalled.

Once every year, usually at the beginning of the year, some of these writings are gathered and burned to ashes of holiness. Thus, they receive a new beginning, a new life, and are reborn. They celebrate the incessant resurrection of nature.

Hiroshi Kariya 1990

 


The key concepts in this passage are sutra and rebirth, the foundation of all three parts of Kariya’s installation.

In Indian philosophy, a Sutra (from the Sanskrit word for thread) is a compilation of rules or principles that governs a particular aspect of life, For example, Kama sutra, the one most familiar to Westerners, codifies the conventions of physical love. Kariya adapts the concept as a group of words that conveys a fundamental idea about the world in a way that transcends time and place.
The sutra underlying Kariya’s work, which he has written on various objects thousands of times since 1977, is “is the now”. To him, this inelegant phrase represents the immediacy of creation, and for him the act of creating is more important than the thing created.

Kariya also believes that the material world is a continuum, that nothing is ever irrevocably destroyed, that the present can speak to the future just as the past speaks to the present, and that nature should be respected. Rebirth, which the installation expresses more prosaically as recycling, is a concept to be honored and encouraged.

For Kariya, the installation represents a prolonged act of meditation on immortality. It is a contemplative work constructed with humble materials such as rocks, beans and driftwood, which have been energized through repetitive sutra inscriptions in ink and paint.

The easiest part of the installation for an observer to grasp is Memory Wall, which occupies the west wall of the lower gallery. Memory Wall expresses the idea of rebirth literally; It’s constructed of the framing lumber and sheetrock that were used for the previous installation in the gallery, by Russian artist Ilya Kabakov.

Kabakov’s installation consisted of a sheetrock wall that covered the south end of the lower gallery and a free-standing U-shaped wall in the center of the room. Kariya demolished these walls, but before he did, he sectioned them with chalklines into grids and marked with an identifying letter and number, much as archaeologists mark out a dig site.

Kariya then assembled some of the larger chunks of the demolished Kabakov walls into a new, irregular wall. The leftover framing lumber is neatly stacked at the side, each piece numbered, and the debris, including even the dust from the demolition, is heaped behind it.

Simple as it is, Memory Wall embodies the idea of reincarnation with surprising eloquence. Its post-Kabakov codings testify to its former existence, and its deliberately ragged appearance reminds the observer that it honors the spirit of reincarnation more than material perfection.

Andy Wahol’s  memory  wooden fragment #26
(This fragment was revealed after demolition, used for Andy Wahol’s first Museum solo exhibition)

But it does have a practical aspect. Kariya has stamped and numbered 800 small pieces of sheetrock that the ICA will sell for a dollar each, with the proceeds to be used to recoup the cost of the Kbakov walls.

On the opposite wall of the lower gallery, Kariya has installed a work-in-progress called 8000 Years Spring, 8000 Years Autumn.  Forty-eight feet long by 8 feet high, it is made of pieces of used wood, each 2 feet long.

The pieces are stacked on the wall in six rows. The stacks vary in height, and most of the wood is tinted green (for spring) or red and purple (for autumn). Most also are marked with a simulated script that represents Kariya’s “is the now” sutra.

The sutra writing also covers a series of large scrolls open to various lengths on the floor in front of the wall.

The visual effect of the wall array is something like an abstract codex or calendar. One recognizes it as a record of time passed, but it also alludes to the rhythmic cadence of language. Because sutra writing is abstract-it vaguely resembles Arabic or Persian-it communicates metaphorically, but its incantatory purpose is clear.

...The most ritualistic aspect of the total installation, Sutra Tomb, occupies the upper gallery. Here, Kariya displays a panoply of sutra objects-wooden discs (on which his sutra is written continuously in a spiral), pieces of driftwood, rocks, small jars of paint, and miscellaneous objects such as candles, seashells, postcards, bones and small paper scrolls.

Some of these items are organized systematically on a sturdy, wooden free-standing shelf, while others are laid out on the floor behind it. The observer isn’t allowed to walk around or through the piece, so he or she experiences it as a succession of fragmented views.

To the left, a 20-foot-wide ring of 100 limestone fragments, each covered with sutra writing, circles through an adjacent gallery and links up with the central array; to the right, a ring of 100 piles of white beans, totaling about 100, a “grasp”

The arrangement does approximate an ancient burial chamber, where offerings are left to propitiate gods, but through the seeds it also implies dormancy and rebirth. Like 8000 Years, through, it cannot be deciphered by an outsider, nor do I think the artist intends that anyone should need to do so.

Literal translation isn’t necessary; the spirit of the work is palpable from its form and constituent elements. If one were to come upon a similar display deep in a primeval forest or in a secluded mountain cave, as an artifact of a vanished civilization, one would understand its purpose intuitively.

The most distinctive quality of Kariya’s work, aside from the patience and dedication it obviously demands, is that the process of making it-the “sacrifice” to which he refers in his wall text-is more consequential than the artifacts it produces. It is, in fact, its essence.

By coming upon this installation after the artist has completed his labor (or at least interrupted it), the observer unfortunately misses the main event, which is the artist focusing intently on his task. This art isn’t intended as interpersonal communication; it describes a solitary, almost penitential search for communion with a cosmic unity.

One judges the quality of such a quest much as one would evaluate a religious mission, by the artist’s persistence and dedication to his ideals. By this standard, Kariya has achieved the most meaningful goal to which art can aspire.

Edward J. Sozanski, Philadelphia Inquirer, 3.18, 1990

 

Image made by CG Tech
Image made by CG Tech
 
1990

倉林靖 開放系カタログ評論文


刈谷博


刈谷博の個展『追悼1992』に初めて訪れたときの印象は鮮烈だった。展示会場は一階と三階に分かれていたが、まず「18面経」と題された一階に入ると、廃棄物を袋につめることによって作られた人体が何体も横たわっている。その人体は紐で梱包されており、そこにはチョークで雑然と英文が書きなぐられた黒板の断片が幾つも結び付けられている。何だか分からないが、なにか人間と社会に関わるのっぴきならないメッセージが封印されているのだ、と予感される。

「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。

刈谷博は、このときの個展の副題を「報道絵画・彫刻展」と名付けている。なぜ「報道」なのか?彼は毎日読む新聞や雑誌の記事のなかから、あれらの言葉に巡り合って、書きつける。なによりもまず真実を伝えようという意図から発した言葉たち。それゆえに、彼の作品は「報道」絵画・彫刻なのだ。毎日、世界のどこかで発生している強い憤り、深い悲しみ、それらを彼はアートの形でそのまま見る者に伝えたいと欲するのである。

刈谷の作品を流れる思想はきわめてユニークであり、そしてある意味では、やや難解である。「私の作品のテーマは、書く(刻す)という行為であり、その過程であり、そのイメージにある。」「この作品のテーマは生きる(刻す)という行為であり、その過程であり、そのイメージにある」と彼は言う。そして、この「書く(=生きる)」という行為の背後には、仏教でいうところの「写経」という考え方がある。彼は、自分の作品のことを「"Sutra",言い換えると『お経』であるという。「"Sutra"とは梵語で糸または紐の意で、生きるための教えを書いたものを編纂するのに用いた"綴じ紐"という意味である」。

写経とは、経文をかきうつすことにより、死者への供養や、願いや祈りを捧げることで、もちろん経文を後世に伝えるという意味もあるが、むしろ写す者の精神や彼をとりまく世界を平安にする目的のほうが大きいと思われる。写された経文という、行為の結果よりも、写すという行為そのもののほうが尊ばれるという、われわれから見れば一種の逆転が起こるのである。ここにおいて、書くこと=生きることとなり、行為は祈りとなる。

仏教的世界観に照らしてみれば、この世界で生起する一切の出来事は、また一人一人の個人とも「因縁」という形で密接につながっている。世界の森羅万象、万物が、連鎖する原因と結果のなかで結ばれているのである。だから、いま世界で起こっている暴力、戦争、悲惨、あらゆる行為が、実は個人の欲望と結ばれているのである。世界の出来事に個人は責任の一端を持ち、そして、世界を、自らの欲望が生んだ「業」の結果として見る必要が出てくる。これは、西洋世界が持ちえない独自な世界観・人生観であり倫理観ではあるまいか。刈谷はこうして、世界で起こっている事象に対して、自らの精神からの祈りを捧げるのである。

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。

刈谷はその77年以来、今日まで、さまざまな「経」を行っている。それらは、経が書かれる素材などから、さまざまな名で呼ばれている。「流木経」「年輪経」「石想経」「渦巻経」「廃材供養経」「種子経」「合掌経」「呼吸経」などと。たとえば「種子経」は、「一日に一度一握り分の豆にお経を書いたもの」である。

そして刈谷にとってもうひとつの経が、新聞や雑誌に出ていた記事の言葉を黒板にかいていく、あるいは切り抜いて貼っていく「黒板経」である。こうして刈谷の作品は、「つくる」という意識よりもむしろ、日々の平凡な営みのなかから出来上がってくる。まさに結果よりも行為のほうに重点が置かれているのである。また、作品に使われた素材はすべて廃棄物・廃材であり、それらは展示のあとはまた別の作品に使われたり、別な用途に使うためにとっておかれる。この世界における、あるいは物質世界と非物質世界とのあいだにおける「もの」の、もしくは「生命」の循環、死と再生を表すものであろう。そして同時に、展覧会場に置かれた廃棄物は、今日の物質世界のなかではそれらが文字通り「死物」と化するほかはないこと、今日の「死」がこのように陰惨な光景であること、なども告げているのである。

こうして刈谷の作品は、「今」の世界が生起させる、さまざまな現象が、物質と言語によってあらわされた場となる。「追悼1992」の場合には、一階にあった18体の人体はそれぞれ「ソマリ人」「ソマリア」「三人のトルコ人」「寺院」「カーディスタンと呼ばれる国」「ロシアはロシア」「アンゴラ」「エルサルバドル」「カンボジア」「からだを包むもの」「ボスニア」「ホームレス」「放射能」「廃棄」「アジアエイズ」「母」と呼ばれる。「母」は、この年亡くなった刈谷の母をあらわし、個人的な体験における「死」と世界で起こっている「死」の関連がここで表現された(「母」のそばにあった付けっぱなしのテレビは、今日から明日への持続性を示すもの)。ここに書かれた文字は、それぞれの人体に関連する新聞記事からの引用である。たとえば「三人のトルコ人」は、ネオ・ナチによって三人のトルコ人が殺害された記事から生まれた。

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。

取り壊しの際、刈谷はまず壁に格子状の線を引き、区画ごとに文字と番号による表示を書き込んだ。彼は大きな断片によって壁を再構築し、また木材は大きさごとに整理して脇に並べ、果ては細かい断片や屑、埃さえももれなく利用し並べるのである。さらに、細かい漆喰の破片800個に通し番号と捺印を施し、それをICAが一人につき一個一ドル紙幣のみで販売し、その売り上げはカバコフの壁の材料費の埋め合わせとして利用することにしたという。

ICAの個展では、カバコフの壁を再生したこの「記憶(カバコフの壁)」のほかに、次のようなインスタレーションが行われた。
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」。

そのさまざまな経の作品のなかには、先にあげた、流木や、年輪のある木に経を書き綴ったもの、丸い石の円頂から渦巻状に経を書き、裏にまわってもうひとつの円頂まで書いていくもの、さらにその二つの円頂を貫く穴をあけて循環性を強調したもの、またインク瓶などの小さな容器、電球、ポストカード、骨など、あらゆるものに経を書き付けたものが展示された。そこにはまた、一個一個が経文で覆われた百個の小さな石灰石と、先ほど述べた「種子経」の、一握りおよそ百粒の豆の群れが百握り分(一個一個の豆の表裏も経で覆われている)とが、それぞれ輪をなして床に配置されていた。

このような展示に見られる刈谷の作品の特徴は、ひとつには、呪術的・儀式的側面であろう。アラビア文字とも見紛うばかりの、うねりの激しく、そして細かく執拗にものに刻み込まれる文字は、それだけで、何か文字の持つ呪術性を思わせる。その経が書かれた日常品は、「もの」の次元を一気にとびこえて、物質性と非物質性の両者を合わせ持つ特別な性格を与えられるようだ。

また、部屋のなかに明確なプランを持ってものを「置いて」いく刈谷の展示は、アメリカ・インディアンなどさまざまな種族が行う秘儀の行為を模しているかのようである。それらのひとつひとつの配置の行為の裏には、刈谷によって与えられた意味が充満している。それゆえ、その意味のひとつひとつを詳しく解説しようとすると、刈谷の作品はいつも極度に膨大なテクストによってやっと語り尽くせるような幅に広さを持っていることを思い知らされることになる。しかしそれらの行為の意味は、もちろん刈谷ひとりが基本的におっていればよいものなのだ。刈谷の作品は、それ自体で完結した行為であり完結した意味を持つものであって、その点では、表現と受容という西洋的な美学の基本的な設定を崩してしまいかねないものである。刈谷の作品は、特定の意味や表現を受手に伝えるものではなく、その作品が世界内に存在するという、作品のありかたそのものを観客が受け入れることによって受容が成立するという点で、他にはあまりない、アートの新しい在り方を示唆するものである。

今回の水戸芸術館におけるインスタレーションは、基本的にこうした営みから生まれた空間であり、従来よりさらに拡大され表現性を増したプランを持っている。さまざまな部分から成っており、それらは「包帯とガーゼ、絆創膏の旗」「世界の壁」「赤十字の壁」「担架」「百体のからだを包むもの」「花とローソクとチョーク」「女の子とハゲタカ」「ボスニアの壁」「UNの壁」「砂袋の壁」「トルコ人の壁」「抗議の壁」「迷路のある教室」「修理中の机の上と椅子」「落書きの壁」などと呼ばれることになる。
そこではれいによって、黒板に書かれたさまざまな文字や、布に包まれた人体をはじめ、血痕や絆創膏がついたガーゼや担架や赤十字のマークのイメージ、人々の抗議の声を書き付けた板、棒、布、砂袋、国連の救援活動の物不足の様子、花やチョークによる追悼のイメージなど、さまざまな要素が重なって、見る者に強い印象を与えるだろう。

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。一つの机の中には、懐中電灯が付けっ放しになって用済み電池を照らしている。四方の壁はさまざまな言葉の落書きで埋めつくされている。そして観客にとって手前に、望遠鏡のついた測量機が置かれ、その望遠鏡をのぞくと、前方の壁の中央にかけられた黒板の文字がみえる。その文字は「未来」である。

刈谷の作品は、世界の状況を「客観的」に眺めて表現しようというものではなく、この世界の状況を、自己の存在も含めたひとつのものとして把握しようとする点で、西欧の美術作品にはまったくない新しい視点をもたらすものであろう。こうした視点が、これからの世界を築いていく重要なものとなっていくのではないだろうか。
時空間を超越した刈谷の作品世界は、しかしそれゆえに、やがてわたしたちが「現在」として相対することになる「未来」に対する透徹した目を持っている。この静かな、しかし烈しい主張のこめられた彼の作品は、わたしたちの存在そのものを強く震撼させる、現代アートにまれな存在感を持っているといえるだろう。

倉林靖 「開放系」展カタログ評論文
水戸芸術館現代美術センター、1994年


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 "Journalistic Paintings Sculptures". Why is it journalistic? He writes down phrases taken from newspapers and magazines. The words were conceived from the desire to convey the truth, so his works are 'journalistic' 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. (This article source was false)
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

1990
 
1996

Planting the seed of an idea in the here and now


By Miki Miyatake Nishizawa

on Hiroshi Kariya’s “Empty”exhibition at Mizuma Art Gallery, Tokyo

The Japan Times/ Saturday, May 11, 1996/ page 15


“The now is the now is the now is the now is the...”
Hiroshi Kariya continues to write this phrase daily.
Handwritten with a calligraphy brush, it looks like a Buddhist
sutra.

In Buddhist thought, the idea of “the now” signifies that
living beings should live each single moment of “now”. A
string of “now and now and now...” constitutes the whole
history of the universe.

Kariya writes “the now is sutra” on both sides of a dried
bean, going through about 100 beans every night before
going to bed. He keeps the finished beans in plastic bags
with notes of his daily thoughts. For him, it is similar to
meditation, a practice of being present in the now.
For Kariya, creating art is not separate from his daily
chores. Taking each breath could be an exercise of art, and
living itself is art.

Three days before the opening day of his current
exhibition at Mizuma Art Gallery in Aoyama, Tokyo, he
started writing in chalk “the now is the now is the...” in spiral
from the center of the concrete floor. The periphery of the
circle is lined with pieces of limestone from Michigan bearing
the words “the now is...” written in a spiral of tiny letters.
The writing, which starts from the center of one side of a
stone, makes its way clockwise, coiling to the other side of
the stone. The beginning and the end of the writing are
connected by Kariya piercing a hole in the middle of the
stone. The idea that “there is no beginning and no end”
signifies eternity, while at the same time it has a limit as one
object.
Going clockwise follows Buddhist custom-a pilgrimage
circuit of Buddhist temples in one area is supposed to be
done clockwise. The loop without the end seems to be
symbolic of reincarnation and the universe where everything
is rotating in transformational stages repeating life and
death.
 
“The now is sutra” is engraved on a thick candle placed at
the north point of the circle of the text on the floor as well
as on glass bowl containing water placed at the south end.
Fire melts the candle and water evaporates from the bowl,
and “this transformation fuses with the space at present,”
says Kariya. The whole piece visually presents the universe in
miniature with an incantation-like spiral text in the middle.
Kariya’s practice of writing on dried beans in January and
February 1992 is recorded in two booklets entitled “One
day one piece one grasp seed sutra.” On each page, a fourline
stanza written by Kariya is printed with the number of
beans he scribbled that day along with date and place.
Based in Brooklyn, N.Y., his poem was first in English:

One piece of Brahma Day
One Piece of ‘the now is’
One Piece of 8,640,000,000 years
One Grasp of 104 pieces

(January 18, 1992, Studio, Brooklyn, N.Y.)

His interest and concern expressed in his poems shifted
from the conflicts in various parts of the world to a more
personal one as he traveled to his hometown Kamaishi in
Iwate Prefecture to see his mother, ill with cancer. The
poems he wrote during his stay in Japan frequently contain
kanji characters meaning “pain, mother, me, breathe, dream,
explain, morning, afraid.”
Kariya’s love for his mother and his suffering over her pain
permeate the poems. His writing the seed sutra every night
for her recovery and also a means to soothe his feelings.
What Kariya does looks simple, but the visual and spiritual
impact of his writings are striking. The magical power of
incantation is present, and his ritualistic manner of creation is
convincing.
Barefoot, with his hair tied in a pony tail and writing “the
now is sutra” on the floor, Kariya may remind us of a
lordless samurai living with a Zen priest’s peaceful state of
mind. He appears undisturbed by the overwhelming pace of
the outer world.
It is interesting to see Kariya’s Japanese identity, his
gracious attitude and power preserved even after living in
New York for close to 20 years. He is very much in touch
with himself, and it is obvious that his art work comes from
the core of his being. As long as he lives, he will use his hands
and mark the path of his life.

By Miki Miyatake on Hiroshi Kariya’s “Empty”
exhibition at Mizuma Art Gallery (J), Tokyo
The Japan Times/ Saturday, May 11, 1996/ page 15

©1996-2007 Hiroshi Kariya & Miki Miyatake Nishizawa

 

Let Seed Speaks

FIRST

1a. The Grasp (vision) is ourselves, the seed (presence) is here, the writing (is) being. This seed (presence) rests on the Grasp (vision). Therefore the writing is sung as resting on the Grasp. Seed is presence, writing is and that makes Grasp (vision) is.

1b. The Grasp (vision) is subject the seed (presence) is object, the writing (is) activator. This seed (presence) rests on the Grasp (vision). Therefore the writing is sung as resting on the Grasp. Seed is presence, writing is and that makes Grasp (vision) is.

1c. The Grasp (vision) is moniter, the seed (presence) is keyboard, the writing (is) erectric power. This seed (presence) rests on the Grasp (vision). Therefore the writing is sung as resting on the Grasp. Seed is presence, writing is and that makes Grasp (vision) is.

1d. The Grasp (presence) is this world, the seed (man) is here, the writing (desire) is. This seed (man) rests on the Grasp (presence). Therefore the writing is sung as resting on the Grasp. Seed is man, writing desire and that makes this world (Grasp) is.

1e. The Grasp (presence) is this earth, the Seed (presence) is change. This Seed (change) rests on that Grasp (earth). Therefore the Seed is sung as resting on the Grasp.

1f. The Grasp (presence) is this one piece, the Seed (presence) is hundredth. This Seed (hundredth) rests on that Grasp (seed). Therefore the Seed is sung as resting on the Grasp.

2. The Grasp is the sky, the seed cloud, the writing air. This seed (cloud) rests on that Grasp (sky). Therefore the writing is sung as resting on the Grasp. Seed is the cloud, writing the air, and that makes the sky (Grasp) is.

3. Grasp is universe (subject), seed the sun (object), writing place (index). This seed (sun) rests on that Grasp (universe). Therefore the writing is sung on the Grasp. Subject is universe, object  the sun, and that makes index (Grasp)  is.


SECOND

1. Grasp is sun (The), seed the man (now), writing the desire (is). This seed (man) rests on that Grasp (sun). Therefore the Seed is sung on the Grasp. The is sun, now  the man, is the desire, and that makes The now is.

2. When from thence Grasp (sun) has risen upwards, Grasp (sun) neither rises (writes) nor sets (erases). Grasp (sun) is alone, standing in the center. And on this there is this verse:

3. The sun (Grasp) does not rise (writes) and does not set (erases). For him (Grasp) there is day (The now is), once and for all.


THIRD

1. Change (seed) is everything whatsoever here exists. Change (seed) is speech, for speech sings forth (change) and protects everything that here exists.

2. Writing (change) is everything whatsoever here exists. Writing (change) is speech, for speech silence forth (change) and protects everything that here exists.


FOURTH

1. Then Writing said  to Seed;
'Let me ask you", "Ask', he replied.

2a. What is the origin of Grasp?'
'Art, he replied.
'What is the origin of Art ?'
'Image', he replied.
'What is the origin of image ?'
'Wishes', he replied.
'What is the origin of whishes ?'
'Desire', he replied.
'What is the origin of desire ?'
'Life', he replied.
'What is the origin of life ?'
'Change', he replied.
'What is the origin of change ?'

3. 'Is', he replied.
'What is the origin of "is" ?'
'This world', he replied.
'What is the origin of this world ?'
'Time', he replied.
'What is the origin of time ?'
'Tone', he replied.
'What is the origin of tone ?'
'Breath', he replied.
'What is the origin of Breath ?'
'Food', he replied.
'What is the origin of food ?'
'Water', he replied.
'What is the origin of water?'
'That world', he replied.
'What is the origin of that world ?'
'Grasp', he replied.
'What is the origin of Grasp ?'
'Writing', he replied.
'What is the origin of writing ?'
'Seed', he replied.
'What is the origin of seed ?'
'Speech', he replied.
'What is the origin of speech ?'
'You', he replied.
'Me ?', then 'What is the origin of me ?'


3. 'Art', he replied.
'What is the origin of art ?'
'Cave drawing', he replied.
'What is the origin of cave drawing ?
'Light', he replied.
'What is the origin of light ?'
'Night', he replied.
'What is the origin of night ?'
'Day light', he replied.
'What is the origin of day light ?'
'Fire', he replied.
'What is the origin of fire ?'
'Gas', he replied.
'What is the origin of gas ?'
'Change', he replied.
'What is the origin of change ?'

2b. 'Desire', he replied.
'What is the origin of desire ?'
'Prayer for food', he replied.
'What is the origin of prayer for food ?'
'Life's sake', he replied.
'What is the origin of life's sake ?'

4. 'Life', he replied.
'What is the origin of life ?'
'To feel', he replied.
'What is the origin of  "to feel" ?'
'To know', he replied.
'What is the origin of "to know" ?'
'Wonder', he replied.
'What is the origin of "wonder" ?'
'Pain', he replied.
'What is the origin of "pain" ?'

5a. 'I am', he replied.
'What is the origin of "I am" ?'
5a?. 'Am I', he replied.
'What is the origin of "Am I" ?'
'You are', he replied.
'What is the origin of "You are" ?'
'This world', he replied.
'What is the origin of "this world" ?'

5b. 'Grasp', he replied.
'What is the origin of "Grasp" ?'
'Seed writing is', he replied.
'What is the origin of "seed writing is" ?'
'Morning wake', he replied.
'What is the origin of "morning wake" ?'

6. 'Life', he replied.
'What is the origin of life ?'
'Sun set', he replied.
'What is the origin of sun set ?'
'Sun rise', he replied.
'What is the origin of sun rise ?'
'Grasp is', he replied.
'What is the origin of Grasp ?'
'News titles', he replied


FIFTH

'What is the origin of  News Titles?'

85. 'A (H5N1)', he replied. For all these beings take their rise from the A (H5N1) and return into the A (H5N1).  A (H5N1) is older than these, A (H5N1) is their rest.

'What is the origin of A (H5N1) ?'

'It's enough for today, he replied. A (H5N1) is their rest.'