Mid-Summer Fiction: Close Encounters of the Known Kind
Keiko Okamura Curator, Tokyo Photographic Art Museum
White Discharge (2002-), a representative series by Teppei Kaneuji, is a collection of three dimensional objects made by piecing together fragments of everyday items. The parts are covered with resin and white pigment, which trickles down, forming a running veil. This alienates and nullifies the objects’ original functions, meanings and outlines. Unpredicted monsters emerge from the familiar shapes. Kaneuji says one inspiration for this process lay in seeing a snowy landscape. We have probably all experienced an overnight fall of snow transforming the familiar scene outside our window into something extraordinary. ＊
Last summer, Kaneuji did site visit at Echigo-Tsumari in Niigata Prefecture, to prepare his project. He was struck by the strong sense of presence in a snowplough which was stored in a warehouse to be used as the exhibition space. Such heavy equipment is typical in the region because of its significant snowfall, but is rarely seen in cities, even at building sites. The encounter eventually led to Kaneuji’s theme of ‘recalling winter in summer.’
Snow in an urban setting has a kind of charming abstraction. A heavy fall may paralyse infrastructure temporarily, but things soon return to normal and landscapes recover their humdrum routine. Yet for people facing superhuman quantities of snow, on a daily basis, matters cannot be thought of so conceptually. People become endowed, perhaps unconsciously, with an awe for the white nothingness that may mean life or death.
Ploughs are bluky and built to open pathways, throwing snow outwards with overwhelming power. In shape they may invoke invincible robots or even secret weapons. When he also visited the exhibition site in winter, Kaneuji fascinatedly watched snowploughs at work, and felt a sci-fi sense of unreality in the machine-made piles of snow.
Fiction is a way to imaginatively draw what is not present. Castles in the air can be built in many ways, and Kaneuji has his particular method. He does not draw with his own hand, but makes forms by severing already-existing objects or randomly-created images, then combining them to create new, absurdist compositions. He generates heterogeneity with unidentified objects, which emerge suddenly from the gaps in what we take as the ordinary. His works are like ‘channelling spots’ to connect reality and alien worlds. Teppei Kaneuji’s mid-summer fiction will offer a somewhat pleasant horror story.
＊Interview with Teppei Kaneuji, ‘I keep creating based on my own honest experiences’, in, Teppei Kaneuji: Molten City, Blank Forest Akaakasha, 2009), p.115.