Hello, my name is Fumiaki Aono, and I am an artist in Sendai City.
In the past several years, I have begun to pick up the fragments of broken things from various places, and in line with the Japanese word “naosu” – which encompasses concepts of both healing and repairing, as well as putting back into place and transforming – have begun to recreate these broken things by combining them with other items to compensate for their lost properties.
When we think of the common way of going about creating art, we largely think of making things. However, by approaching art through the concept of “naosu”, we have started to think about deriving new forms of creativity.
The first photograph shows the restoration of a small plastic container.
The second shows the restoration of a damaged ship
The back of the ship is the part that was salvaged, so the restoration involves extending the front part of the ship.
The term “reconstruction work” shouldn’t be taken to imply that the article can be restored to its original state.
From the start, it must be recognized that this is not possible.
Reconstruction is always affected by various conditions and constraints, such as time and the feelings and interpretations of the related parties.
But rather than being limited by these conditions, the objects that were at one time discarded can be more positively affected by the so-called “sense of ownership” of those performing the reconstruction. They are transformed into a completely new form, and are refreshed by the vitality of the here-and-now.
The raw materials used in the reconstruction have different material properties than the original fragments. The original material is replaced with materials we have on hand like plywood, paper, plaster and cement.
Furthermore, in recent years we have seen the parallel trend of everyday items like chests-of-drawers, desks, boxes, and so on being almost appropriated in their unaltered states as substitute materials for reconstructions.
In this third picture, a desk has been used as a substitute material to help reconstruct a red plastic container
After last year’s Tohoku Earthquake, we found our surroundings completely changed. Both our everyday surroundings and the environment of our artistic creation were swept away by the vast rubble of the disaster.
For artists living here, it is almost impossible to escape this unpleasant reality. The works that we have created since the disaster have inevitably become double-layered reflections of our unavoidable conditions.
The fourth photograph is a picture of the floor of my wife’s parents’ house in Miyako, a town that was swallowed up in the tsunami, with a table embedded in it.
By using everyday items, like desks and wardrobes, as materials for making other things, we work towards reconstruction.
For everyone whose lives were turned upside down by the earthquake, the environment in which they created their art was also ripped away from them.
For example, because the area where we usually did our fieldwork was swallowed by the tsunami, we found ourselves in a state where we had no choice but to bring the rubble from the quake into our artworks.
The fifth photograph is of a new work made from a damaged ship from Ishinomaki, a city in the disaster zone. Here we see how in reshaping rubble into everyday items like furniture, we can work towards rebuilding our daily life from the damage.
But if you look at it another way, if you dare to put a coffee cup on the table, even though the table will continue to be a table, you will see that more than half of the table is actually a ship that had been swept away from the ocean.
What will be born out of the urgent conditions of the present? How should we continue to live our lives? For an artist like myself, it seems that there is no other way to find out the answers to these questions than by continuing to search for the indicators within the work we wrestle with on a daily basis.
I plan on announcing a one-man show of these works, as a trial run, to be exhibited at the Sendai Gallery Turnaround opening in July.