series of paintings  +  site-specific installation at Saigyo-an


2005 | site-specific installation | Saigyo-an, Kyoto, Japan - Kyoto Art Walk

supported by: Kyoto Art Walk Association, Agency for Cultural Affairs of Japan, Kyoto City, Cill Rialaig Project | special thanks: Saigyo-an, Toru Ohta, Yoshihiro Hanawa

IRISH BLACK RAINBOW — Sixth century monks seeking a peaceful haven from the world made their way to the Skellig Michael Island, at the westernmost reach of Ireland. During my stay in Kerry, I worked near Bolus Head, a hill of mainland which has a distant view of the island.

I felt surrounded by the power of nature. The winds were unbelievably strong. I spent my first days just listening to the sound of the wind. It is said that in Ireland, there are four seasons in one day, and indeed the weather changes at a bewildering pace throughout the day. Because of these changes, I saw numerous rainbows everyday. Their colors were deep and dark, appearing as double rainbows, triple rainbows, and at times even bending back upon themselves as many as five times. One often thinks of rainbows appearing in distance, but here they could appear at extremely close proximity. Then, the colors appeared ever deeper, more vibrant, with each watery particle of light perceptible.

Two or three weeks into my stay, a couple living nearby told me about a black rainbow that they had seen on the night of a full moon. They saw it only once, but they were both certain that what they had seen was undoubtedly a rainbow.

Kerry, Ireland, 2004

In mounting the drawings, I referred to Nanporoku-hiden, a 17th century tome on tea and the teachings on Sen-no-Rikyu. I spent a great deal of time choosing the fabrics for the mounting. As I considered the principles of hanging scrolls developed by Murata Juko(1423-1502), an early tea master, I saw that the futai, the seemingly purposeless two ribbons of fabric that hang from the top of the scroll, would determine the scroll's appearance.

In Japanese hanging scrolls, futai  (literally, ribbon of the wind) are usually purely decorative. Especially in Wabi-mountings, they are often adhered directly to the mounting, or eliminated. In China, however, where they are called kyoen (literally, scaring sparrows), these now-decorative elements were used to protect the scrolls from birds. In Tibetan Buddhist hangings, Thanka, they are called kaze-osae and weigh down the cloth that covers and protects the mounted piece. In early Japanese Esoteric Buddhism, a cloth covered the images of the Buddha when the images were not in use. There was no need for the Buddha to be always viewable. Sometimes an object gets more weight, significance, presence by hiding itself. Japanese hibutsu, hidden Buddhist images, are a perfect example of this. The sha, silk gauze, that covers this scroll protects it from not only physical harm but also from careless gazes. In order to see the drawings, one must physically or spiritually lift away the protective silk gauze, transforming the drawing from a viewable object to something that signifies and suggests something of greater significance.

Kyoto, Japan, 2005