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silent shadows
Silent Shadows
workshop for cultural communication between artists from Asia and Europe
- Meeting and Experiencing of East and West




A twenty-one-day workshop is being organized by inviting upcoming young artists
from several countries in Asia and Europe. Working from the premise that each
artist will create and present an art piece at the end, participants will focus on the
theme ‘Silent Shadows’, using their observations and experiences in the workshop
as a tool for expanding consciousness that leads to new ideas.

During the first nine days of the workshop, all the participants will go into complete silence and live communally without electric lights. Through the experimental human exchange that will take place outside of normal human environments and without
verbal communication, the participants will be able to contemplate silence and
darkness, and not only renew their conceptualizations of them, but also create art
that is inspired by the discoveries and surprises that they gain from the experience.
The participants will resume normal life and communication, and will continue
creating art pieces while collaborating, discussing and exchanging with others for
the rest of the workshop.

The exhibition of the art pieces created by the participants will be held on the last
day of the workshop in the extensive space of the villa and its surrounding area.

 

Artists

Atsushi Nishijima : Sound artist (Japan)
Tomohiko Ogawa : Landscape artist (Japan)
Takaaki Kumakura : Professor of Keio University (Japan)
Yoshimi Azuma : Ceramic artist (Japan)
Misa Shimomura : Musician (Japan)
Ayako Mogi : Photographer, Filmmaker (Japan)
 
Isamu Krieger : Artist (Switzerland)
Afra Dopfer : Artist (Germany)
Marion Neumann : Filmmaker (Germany)
Werner Penzel : Filmmaker (Germany)
Theresa Wong : Musician (USA)
Tamlyn Young: Artist (South Africa)
Sudhu Tewari : Sound artist (USA)
Melissa Crago : Dancer (USA)

 

Background 

The Japanese author Junichiro Tanizaki wrote about the Japanese aesthetic of valuing darkness in his work, ‘In Praise of Shadows’. He vividly describes an aesthetic cultivated over a period of centuries that finds beauty in darkness and shadows, and that beautifully and sensitively incorporates its inevitable existence into daily life. In this, the Japanese are able to recognize the beauty that comes as things fade and decay on their way to death.

It may be that this is a peculiar aesthetic for Europeans or North Americans, or maybe even to the eyes of those that are simply modern. It may be because that ultimately, they are not completely knowable and remind us of fear, death and annihilation.

The philosophy of accepting and respecting the natural state of things and an aesthetic of darkness and shadows can be found in every aspect of life in old Japan, including architecture, the visual and performing arts, crafts, food, clothing, ways of life, travel, and even in the relationship between a man and a woman. But in the contemporary era, this view of life is becoming endangered.

In the West, light and brightness have been admired, and darkness and shadows are often considered to be negative. The effort to enhance light and brightness has led them to invent and develop various things and incorporate them into daily life, defining objects under a clear bright light. Glass windows, lighting fixtures, white plates for the beautiful presentation of food, white rooms, white bathrooms and white basins are good examples.

The West seems to be more interested in actively working upon the external environment and altering it to allow more access to light. This is an interesting contrast to traditional Japan where the existence of things is sensed through subtle colours and fragrances that are barely recognizable in the dark, respecting their vague forms, and defining them within a different framework of beauty.

Now in both the East and West, darkness instantly vanishes when a light is switched on. Our lives are no longer threatened by it, so darkness now fades from our consciousness and our fear of darkness gradually weakens.

The same can be said about silence. Though little attention is generally paid to it, the silence between sounds is important. The contemporary composer John Cage showed us this by deconstructing common ideas about music and the relationship between sounds and silence. He writes in his book ‘Silence’:

“Unfortunately European thinking has brought it about that actual things that happen such as suddenly listening or suddenly sneezing are not considered profound. In the course of a lecture last winter at Columbia, Suzuki said that there was a difference between Oriental thinking and European thinking, that is in European thinking things are seen as causing one another and having effects, where as in oriental thinking, this seeing of cause and effect is not emphasized but instead one makes an identification with what is here and now. He then spoke of two qualities: unimpededness and interpenetration. Now this unimpededness is seeing that in all of space each thing and each human being is at the center and furthermore that each one being at the center is the most honored one of all. Interpenetration means that each one of these most honored ones of all is moving out in all directions penetrating and being penetrated by every other one no matter what the time or what the space. So that when one says that there is no cause and effect, what is meant is that there are an incalculable infinity of causes and effects, that in fact each and every thing in all of time and space is related to each and every other things in all of time and space. This being so there is no need to cautiously proceed in dualistic theme of success and failure or the beautiful and the ugly or good and evil, but rather simply to walk on “not wondering,” to quote Meister Eckhart, “am I right or doing something wrong.”

Not many people have experienced nine days without conversation or electricity. How will shadows and darkness present themselves through this visual experience, and how will silence manifest itself in the auditory experience of our consciousness and unconsciousness? This workshop will be an opportunity to pursue stimulating discoveries and a shift of awareness. Art always begins with a fresh gaze and the dismantlement of consciousness. This rare opportunity to look into, recognize, and sense the normally unnoticed ‘silence and shadows’ will stimulate expression from a totally different perspective.

 

Shadows, darkness, and silence; they don’t speak about themselves. Direct your attention to them. Because they don’t talk, they remain mysterious and keep unknowable power in them. What could they tell us? Should we change our eyes, ears, and minds first to know it?

Sounds come and go, but the silence remains.
Silence, unbroken, except for occasional noises.
The substance is silence, dark silence.
There is always some stir, some light, some sound, then they stop,
and there is only dark silence.

I wait in the dark, in the rain, no sound but the rain.
Waiting, not waiting, doing nothing but waiting.
Does the darkness move? Does the silence move? They dont, and neither do I.
Are they waiting? I have no way of knowing.
(Robert Lax)

 

Publication

The process and the experience created during this workshop is connected
with another project,  „Radio Village Nomade“ which takes place for 7 months
(May 1st - Nov 30th). „Radio Village Nomade“ is a daily audio broadcast via internet radio, for 214 days. It will be created by some of our invited artists as well as through contributions sent from related artists all over the world . „Silent Shadows“ will be transmitted in this context as well.

jourparjour cie will post information about the workshop, using our own website – www.jourparjour.net

At the end of the workshop we will present the developed art works of this 21 day experience as an open event for the public. We are looking forward to present visual and acoustic installations as well as
performing arts, mixed media shows, literature, painting and photography. The
place, La Corbière, allows a variety of possibilities for an exhibition like this and
gives the public the chance for an experience quite different than that of usual
exhibition places.

After the workshop „jourparjour cie“ will organize and publish the different
outcomes for a wider audience (video installations, literature, photobook, video documentation for TV and on DVD) and also present these works at contemporary
art museums and other art exhibition spaces.

 

Cooperation:
P3 art and environment

P3 art and environment became independent from a religious institution,
Tochoji Temple as part of  the cultural projects " Alternative Museum,
Tokyo" for 400 years anniversary from April 1989.
"P3 art and environment" means theme of projects, cooperate with several
organizations and corporations, and support mainly contemporary art .
P3 focus on a process of dynamic reciprocal formation between human beings
and environment, human beings and society, and designates grate artists to
the society.
In the project "Silent Shadows", P3 cooperates with Laboratoire Village
Nomade and selects the artists.





silent shadow

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