The Japan News by The Yomiuri Shimbun

Home > Reviews > Theater



A love letter that conjures up an image: Walking the forest of Iei (Memorial Photograph)―Rieko Shiga Exhibition Rasen Kaigan (Spiral Coast)

Yukie Mase
Assistant Professor, Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences

After three hours of taking in the Raisen Kaigan exhibition at Sendai Mediatheque, I was fully satisfied. Continuing on from my last entry, although I feel a little guilty about not writing much about so-called theatre in a theatre review column, I wanted to feel the theatrical border violating power of this exhibition that gives a sensation of opening up a crack into another dimension in the everyday lives of the visitors.

On taking the glass elevator to the sixth floor, about 200 large standing sign boards, about two metres in height, cover the whole floor, lined up with their backs facing outward. Towering like living creatures, each sign board has images taken by the camera of Rieko Shiga, who has lived in Kitagama, Natori City, Miyagi Prefecture from 2008, as if she was inhaling and absorbing or capturing the land. Visitors to the gallery, namely the audience of this spectacle, rely on the exhibition map handed to them at the entrance and are encouraged to closely analyze the works in their own way. The message from the photographer, "the main aim of these works is to explore into the direction of the memorial photograph's gaze, follow it, and understand where it leads to" (from the map), becomes a compass for the audience to look at those memorial photographs. The figure of a man wearing an object like a giant piece of flotsam around his neck staring vaguely ahead, the whole body of man standing in a suit casually reflected on the panel, a group of giant lumps of earth-like objects shining white in the sunlight, or pitch black darkness connecting to no single object. And while sitting on one of the several sofas that are positioned to make you wonder if they are part of the exhibit and being lulled into sleepiness, you can look over, from a distance, a group of panels that appear like a thickly covered pine forest. At this time the visitors, without realizing it, have already strayed into the theatrical space prepared by the artist.

Shiga started living in Kitagama after being possessed with a sensation like "falling in love at first sight" (*1). The more time you spend in this other dimension, you feel as if you are peeking into the head of an artist who has continued to be involved whole-bodily in the place where she became charmed and relocated to. It is a comfortable feeling.

The exhibition runs until January 14, 2013. The shape of the venue itself constitutes the framework of the exhibition's layout, and I have heard that it will not be a travelling exhibition.

*1 The following two sources give detailed information on how Rieko Shiga began her love affair with Kitagama.
Interview with Rieko Shiga, Aida No. 194 (Aida Society, July 20, 2012), Machi no Shashinya-san (Town Photographer) in [Catalog] Vol. 10. on [Wasuren TV311 (Never Forget 311 TV)], documentation meeting for directors Ryusuke Hamaguchi and Ko Sakai's documentary film Nami no Koe (Voice of the Waves)

Yukie Mase
Assistant Professor, Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Graduated from School of Letters, Arts and Sciences II, Waseda University majoring in literary art. Started current position after completing her doctorate at the Graduate School of Letters, Arts and Sciences, Waseda University and the Faculty of Literature, Lumi竪re University Lyon 2. Majors in Western theatre texts with a focus on France and production. Wrote From Novels to Drama-Jean Giraudoux Changes in Narration (Waseda University Press) , and major essays such as Influence of Jean Giraudoux in Shuji Terayama – Radio Drama ‘Daireifuku’(in Theatre Essay Collection, Volume 54), Les sons sauvent les vies ; Souvenirs acoustiques de 4.48 psychose de Sarah Kane mis en sc竪ne de Norimizu Ameya, Théâtre/Public (197, 2010), and Fujita and Giraudoux--Surrounding Unknown《Chance Encounter》 (Comparative Literature Annual No.47).