Kaoru Murakami

2019 Kamiyama Artist in Residence Participant

Through her studies in copper printing at Tama Art University, Murakami began to take an interest in layered structure, and developed this into a practice of creating solid models with multi-layered properties. By adding simple operations to ordinary objects, and changing and developing ordinary actions, she aims to explore the intimate feelings that people have towards objects, while at the same time upending that familiarity. She turns this into an act of examining misaligned perception, discrepancies, misunderstandings, and assumptions that happen between cultures through her objects and installations. For her, this behavior is an extension of the act of exploring how she perceives and comprehends her surroundings. The use of simple mechanics and light is an important component of her work as a non-destructive influence on things.

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Chasing the Procyonoides
Method and Materials: Installation (Voice: 5:00 loop / Video: 6:42 loop)

The creatures that appear in old folk tales are often portrayed as the cause of things that cannot be explained with words. 

In general, the vulpes and procyonoides are two creatures that often appear in old Japanese tales, but in Tokushima prefecture, only procyonoides appears. This is the same for Kamiyama. I think this indicates what a familiar presence procyonoides once was in human society, but on the other hand, I hear that in recent times they are not often seen. I suppose they are being chased from their homes due to development and deforestation, disease and hunting. 

The roles we entrust to creatures in old tales operates as a sort of shifting of responsibility to keep from getting to the bottom of things. Blaming others for our blunders, making inadvertent mistakes the fault of procyonoides. 

This may seem at first like a harmful way of thinking, but it can play a useful role in reducing psychological burden, allowing people to temporarily look at an unbearable reality from a new perspective. Of course, if one is always shifting responsibility, one loses sight of reality. What I’m trying to say is it is a double-edged sword, and it’s a matter of understanding your own habits of thought and how far you can go with them. 

The procyonoides, which once acted as a sort of spiritual breakwater, is currently not often seen in Kamiyama, but the human heart has surely not changed much. What sort of creature acts in the role of that spiritual breakwater in the tales of people living in the present? In order to discover that, I held a workshop at the junior high, and had them make puppets with their own idea of the form of procyonoides, and also had them act out some signature lines.  

At the workshop, I first had the participants design the dolls on the questionnaire sheets I distributed. Then, they formed shapes with aluminum foil, and used hammers to make flat dolls. The act of striking procyonoides, the incarnation of the shifting of responsibility, was a sort of ritualistic action as well.

The movement and the reduction in numbers of procyonoides is said to be related to development, but I think one expression of this development in Kamiyama is the presence of a great amount of architectural elements. In particular, for this installation I gathered a lot of shoji screens. The amount of shoji I gathered spoke to the changes in the lifestyles of the people. Shoji are no longer used in many homes, old houses are torn down, and so on.

Of course, if you want to know what procyonoides is, all you have to do is look it up on your smartphone, but it can really be anything.

They can all be procyonoides.
It’s hard to prove something that doesn’t exist. To prove that something “isn’t” means you have to look everywhere, and it’s surely nearly impossible. This is how we can become indifferent to something that doesn’t exist, and I think it comes down to where we position the state of not being. 

During my time spent in Kamiyama working on my art, these are the sorts of things I thought about, but I was not able to meet a procyonoides.


Exhibition details on Artist website




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