With his video installation works, Watanabe explores circumstances of individuals he encounters through research and interviews to paradoxically reveal the anatomy (structure and power) of our society.
Head In a Blur Uncertain Feet
Supported by: Ogasawara Toshiaki Memorial Foundation
Due to the outbreak of the new coronavirus in 2020, my participation in the international artist-in-residence program was put on halt. I felt a sense of loss, as if I had nowhere to go and had trapped in Tokyo physically as well as mentally. It was in the midst of this when I had the opportunity to stay in a marginal village in Japan where the only old man has been living there for more than a decade. Though I did meet a few former residents and others in the area, the way time passed and the sense of space created was completely different from that of Tokyo during the same period.
I had been told that the only resident, an old man, was not a very sociable and rarely engaged with outsiders like myself. However, as I continued to live in the village and started to work on the fields to grow vegetables, he slowly began to talk to me. The story about two falls that appear in this work is something I came to know from the encounter with this man.
I was somewhat drawn to the emotional insecurity he seemed to be having, and later came to understand his fall as the reason for it. Perhaps I saw myself in his tottering state, as I also had arrived here for different reasons, but with nowhere else to go. I was mesmerised by his perspective, interwoven with the weft of the urban and the rural, and the warp of life and death, present in his life.
During AAUK, I have discussed with my peers on the way to translate this work into English, as it incorporates the Japanese language format as an integral part of it. And I have also shared my ongoing research into some of the areas in Japan with nuclear facilities, and discussed ideas for future works and approaches to my artistic practice.
With his video installation works, Watanabe explores circumstances of individuals he encounters through research and interviews to paradoxically reveal the anatomy (structure and power) of our society. By situating himself in a place to which he does not belong, he begins with research to explore, albeit imperfectly, the perspective of others; the subjective gaze by others on themselves, rather than objective gaze on them by the artist. Giving a form to the gaze emerging from the research is what he calls art practice.
Solo exhibitions include “Standing on the Shoulders of Neighbors” (HITACHI CIVIC CENTER, Ibaraki, 2020) and “To Think: Once it’s Made (by)” (Tokyo Wonder Site, Tokyo, 2015). Major group exhibitions include “super vision / deportare” (DECAMERON, Tokyo, 2021), “ARCUS Project 2019 OPEN STUDIOS” (ARCUS Studio, Ibaraki, 2019), “Early Morning Musings” (Komagome SOKO, Tokyo, 2018), “Wild: Untamed Mind” (21_21 DESIGN SIGHT, Tokyo, 2017), “Fragile Perspectives” (gallery COEXIST-TOKYO, Tokyo, 2017), and “Art Award Tokyo Marunouchi” (Marunouchi Building Marucube, Tokyo, 2016).
Artist-in-Residences include WIELS Residency Programme (Brussels, Belgium / funded by Tokyo Arts and Space, Being postponed) and ARCUS Project 2019 IBARAKI Artist-in-Residence Program (Ibaraki, Japan / funded Award, 2019).