2010 Kamiyama Artist in Residence participant.
After graduating from the Aichi Prefectural University of Arts and Music in 1989 with a major in design, Midori Hirota moved to Indonesia where she studied painting at the Indonesian Institute of Arts Denpasar and sculpture at the Indonesian Institute of Arts Yogyakarta, remaining active in Indonesia for 18 years before returning to Japan in spring of this year. In addition to working on her own art, she is also active in planning art exhibitions to introduce Indonesian artists to Japan.
She started “the Memory of Asia project” in 2005, where she visited people in the Philippines and Indonesia who experienced World War II. She created works by interacting with people, and had exchanged her artworks with their belongings. Last year, she had a month-long solo exhibition at Tokyo’s HIGURE 17-15 CAS Contemporary Art Space where she held an exchange project with 100 Japanese people who had experienced the war. From this summer, she plans to conduct a similar project during her Kamiyama residency.
Exchange project -Memory of Asia
My grandfather was born in 1908. As WWII was raging, he left his wife and children behind to depart to the front as a conscripted soldier.
I spent a lot of time with my grandfather as a girl. One night, I remember him groaning in his sleep. When I asked him what happened, he told me he dreamt of being back in the battlefield.
While I lived in Indonesia, I visited many Asian countries which made me realize Japan followed the path that is very different from any other country in Asia. Although most of them were under an enemy occupation at one time or another, Japan was not. As the grandchild of a Japanese soldier, I wanted to create an opportunity to share memories and talk about experiences with the generation who grew up in the midst of the pacific war.
In 2005, I started a project to trade my porcelain sculpture in the shape of a person for their personal belongings. Throughout this project, I made a dialogue with one-thousand people in the Philippines, thirty people in Jawa Timur and one-hundred-thirty people in Bali. This experience made me want to move onto the next stage: to have a conversation with Japanese people who lived during the war.
After I met people in Tokyo and Nagoya to share memories, I came to understand that they are also the victims of the war. They lost their families and lived with great fear.
When I started, I carried the project hoping to commemorate the victims as a Japanese person and assailant of WWII. However, regardless of nationality we all sacrificed something for the war and its era.
From August to October 2010, I stayed in Kamiyama for an Artist-in-Residence program. I visited eighty-eight ladies and gentlemen in tribute to the Shikoku 88 pilgrimage for the project. This time I exchanged memories for my sculpture since it seemed wrong for me to keep their priceless objects.
Even though the capital of Tokushima suffered in air raids during the war, Kamiyama was undamaged. Therefore there are many valuable possessions still in storage. So, instead of trading my sculpture for their belongings, I borrowed them to exhibit in an historic ex-sake brewery “Sakagura”. With the video footage of interviews, the conversations and the personal objects they cherish, the scope of my work was completed in the space.
Their lives are beyond our imagination. So listen to their words, look at their faces.
I sincerely hope the audiences give some thoughts to the generation who lived through the war.
Exchange project -Memory of Asia-
Exhibited at “Myozai Shuzo Sake brewry”
Video installation 2010