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Unsmooth Gestures

“Aichi Triennale” Regional Development Project
Unsmooth Gesture: Contemporary Art in Nishio
The phrase “Unsmooth Gesture” appears in the poem by Ibaraki Noriko, a poet who spent her girlhood in Nishio Town, Hazu County (now Nishio City).
The artists, with their own sensitivities, take notice of and react to various events around them that we often stop to think about or pretend not to see because we are so caught up in our daily lives. Their gesture may not always be a smooth one that does not make waves in the surroundings. However, the beautiful ripples that these un-smooth gestures make in our hearts and minds, which do not pass things by in a mature manner, can sometimes be the driving force for living tomorrow.
In this exhibition, around 10 artists active in Japan and abroad will present their works in several facilities around Nishio Station, with an awareness of the various cultures and traditions associated with Nishio.
Dates: October 14 (Sat) - November 5 (Sun), 2023
Venues: Iwase Bunko Library, Nishio City Museum, former Ueda Furniture Store, Koenji Temple, Shoko-so
Organizers: Aichi Prefecture (Contemporary Art Regional Development Project
Organizing Committee), Nishio City

Yun Dong-ju was a Korean poet and independence activist during the Japanese colonial period. Despite his short life, he left a lasting impact on Korean literary history with his unique sensitivity, reflections on life, and aspirations for independence. Yun passed away at the age of 27 in a prison in Fukuoka, Japan on February 16, 1945, just six months before Korea gained liberation from Japanese colonial rule. His health had deteriorated during his one year and seven months of imprisonment following his arrest in connection with the Nationalist Group of Korean Students in Kyoto.


Noriko Ibaragi, one of Japan's prominent female poets, was deeply affected by the prevailing sense of spiritual loss and a feeling of despair in the tumultuous pre- and post-war years. Intrigued by Korean poetry, particularly that of Yun Dong-ju, she developed a keen interest in Korean literature. Beginning learning Korean language at the age of over 50, she forged connections with contemporary Korean poets, significantly contributing to the popularization of Yun Dong-ju's poetry and life in Japan.


The artwork, titled When we were most beautiful, derives its name from Ibaragi’s poem When I Was Most Beautiful. It presents a fictionalized image composed of photographs capturing their beautiful youth. Through the medium of photography, I reinterpreted Ibaragi's deep affection for Yun, transcending ideological boundaries, borders, and the constraints of time.

When we were most beautiful, 2023, 21x29.7cm, Archival pigment print  (Left)
When we were most beautiful, 2023, Image _41x31.5cm Framed _49.7x40.5cm, Archival pigment print

This piece is inspired by a photograph capturing Noriko Ibaragi's glasses and teacup resting on a tablecloth. During my research on the Japanese poet, I stumbled upon photographs documenting her living room and study, offering a glimpse into her unassuming lifestyle and minimalist preferences. While she doesn't make a physical appearance in this work, the featured objects invite us to envision her engaged in the act of sipping tea while immersed in the creation of poetry. I've crafted a scenario where she is seated at a table, contemplating a teacup, engaged in conversation. In the preparations for this exhibition, I often found myself imagining encounters and dialogues with Ibaragi, infusing my work with wishes and the anticipation of those moments. If she were to sit across from me, what might be the first question I'd pose? What topics would our conversation revolve around?

Dialogue with Noriko, 2023, printed cover  (125x 170cm) and table(75x120x72cm)

Add Stars, 2023 (R)

Sky, Wind, Stars, and Poems is the initial collection of poems by Yun Dong-ju, published in 1948, three years after his death. I recreated the cover of this poetry book, an engraving by artist Lee Jung, adding stars as a homage. Additionally, I crafted an origami collage reminiscent of the stars (snow) featured in Noriko Ibaragi's first picture book, created when she was 9.

Despite not having drawn since childhood, as a photographer, this marks my first and likely final exhibition featuring drawings. Despite my embarrassing drawing skills, I invested sincere effort into this endeavor, driven by love and respect for these two poets.

Add Stars_ Sky, Wind, Star and Me,  2023, 73x50cm, Acrylic on canvas  (Left)

* Cover of poet Yun Dong-ju’s first and posthumous collection of his poems The Sky, the Wind, the Star, and the Poem (1948)

* Copied a work by printmaker Lee Jeong, and added stars on the copied worked

 Add Stars, 2023,  50x50cm, color paper collage (right)

This work (Left) is a parody where I embody Noriko Ibaragi from her portrait photo, specifically one of the images captured by poet Shuntaro Tanigawa in 1969, showcasing her in various poses, including one where she is smoking. As a smoker myself, I resonated with her natural presence in front of the camera, or what I would call a "smooth gesture," which became the central theme of this piece.

P.S. Cigarettes are often regarded as just a harmful and addictive symbol by many. However, even in 2023, a woman smoking in Korean society may not be perceived as entirely natural. How about in Japan?

Imitating Smooth Gesture, 2023, 15.5x22.8cm Framed (26.7x31cm), Archival pigment print

스크린샷 2023-12-23 오전 4.45.42.png

When they were most beautiful, consists of a full-body mirror and the poem When I Was Most Beautiful written by Noriko Ibaraki, which is inscribed within the mirror. When viewers stand in front of the mirror to listen to the sound, their reflections and the text overlap. Aylin from Kyiv and Tanias from Moscow take turns reciting Noriko's poem, When We Were Most Beautiful. The recording took place during the height of the war in the spring of 2023.

When they were most beautiful, 2023

Text on Mirror (78x198cm), Sound 3’ 49 loop

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