Saturday, March 5, 2011

Hiraki Sawa, "Going Places, Sitting Down" 2004

A child’s fantasy comes to life in Hiraki Sawa’s Going Places Sitting Down created in 2004. With former studies in sculpture and a keen use of media, Sawa literally builds rural landscapes in the most unusual of places—the living room, bedroom, and yes...even the bathroom! The scenes he recreates in these domestic spaces are filled with the natural things you would see in the country side—horses, trees, and snow covered hills. Bringing these elements together in a whimsical fashion, Sawa invokes his viewers with the feeling that they are witnessing a lovely dream. Sawa’s mixed media fantasies are sure to delight the senses of all ages.

Sawa was born in Japan in 1977. At the age of 18 he decided to move to England where he studied fine art and began to work on installation and video art projects. It is said that his works reflect his transition from his home country to the United States. This film was created in his apartment in London, where he currently resides and works as a young and rising artist. In his works, Sawa seems to turn the rather two-dimensional video plane into a full-blown three-dimensional illusion. Of his work Sawa has stated, “Since I think of working in video in sculptural terms, I make the video image as I would a tangible object.” When I watch this video, I feel like I am a part of Sawa’s recreated worlds, and this is most likely due to his masterful ability to bring forms to life.

Sawa’s has held solo exhibitions internationally, ranging from locations such as Tokyo to Washington and New York. His most recent exhibition, Experimental Playground, was presented at the International Biennal of Media Arts in Melbourne, Australia. In this work, Sawa has filled his scenery with small toy planes (models of war aircraft) that hover slowly over interior landscapes of a laundry room and an office desktop. Of Going Places Sitting Down, one source notes, “His dreams of fantastic domestic situations, produced in his charming Londinense apartment resemble lucid dreams narrated in a codified language, based in a pictographic alphabet often repeated in his works.”

In another piece titled Birds, Saw captures the spirit of flight and rural nature with a flock of birds that fly over a pine-tree forest. The dramatic play between the light and dark, the birds filmed in slow motion, and the soft music in the background call upon the serenity of the natural world. Indeed, Sawa draws his audiences’ attention to the rural beauty that is frequently overlooked or taken for granted. As seen in Going Places Sitting Down, Sawa invites the viewer to take a second look at the voyeurism of life, of course, through the eyes of a young and venturous child who never seizes to explore his urban and rural environment.

Two other artists that utilize rural themes in their works:

Mark Lewis, "Algonquin Park" 2002

In this video, Lewis explores the deep tranquility and beauty of Algonquin Park in Canada. This piece reminds me of Bill Viola's work, in which the viewer must wait patiently for the scene to unfold. At first there is a blank white screen, then finally peaks of pine trees emerge from the bottom of the screen. As the camera pans out, the trees grow taller, and we get a keen sense of the grandeur of this snow-covered park.

Yang Fudong "Half Hitching Post" 2005

Fudong places his subjects (Asian natives dressed in modern clothing) in rural landscapes to demonstrate the gap between tradition and modernism. Half Hitching Post, depicts the symbolic travels of a young Asian couple through an unknown territory...a woman rides a donkey with her spouse along the side. What lies ahead? The desolate landscape suggests the isolation felt between the younger generation as they straddle new culture and tradition.

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