Nikolai Azariah & Isao Miura, 2018: three-screen projection on Japanese paper screens; 2-mat tatami platform with step; pine needles; sound funnel
The most influential poet of Japan and father of haiku, Bashō travelled like an itinerant Buddhist monk with “just my body and a paper coat”, frequently breaking down in tears at the beauty and pathos of what he saw. The Paper Coat, which Miura has made from Japanese Shiramine paper and painted with persimmon, not only represents a practical garment, it is also a symbol of lightness, simplicity and fragility. Bashō’s purpose was to see and be inspired by the landmarks written about by his favourite poets of the past, a sort of pilgrimage called Uta Makura in Japanese. In the same way, the installation explores our relationship with nature’s beauty and power as well as the enduring legends and history that inhabit the places where we live.
The installation comprises a 2-tatami mat platform and 9 cedar wood and paper screens made by Isao, displaying a three-screen film by Nikolai from his journey along the Narrow Road, allowing viewers to immerse themselves in the spirit of these beautiful landscapes. The room is filled with field recordings taken by Nikolai, while above the installation a funnel directs a recording of Isao reading passages from 'The Narrow Road to The Deep North' in Japanese.
Visitors are asked to remove their shoes and step onto the traditional Japanese tatami mat platform, taking their time to absorb the sounds and sights around them. Fallen pine needles remind the viewer that life is brief, but that meanwhile there are many daily tasks to perform, such as sweeping up pine needles.
Sound Design by Gio Galanti
Part of 'Travels In A Paper Coat', an exhibition by Isao Miura, Chris Beckett & Nikolai Azariah
(28/06/18 - 15/07/18)
Exhibited at the A.P.T. Gallery, Deptford, London
With funding from The Japan Society London