the fan on tatami
and the war
This Haiku was made in 1982 by Toshio Mitsuhashi.
Tatami mats and fans (uchiwa) are banal stuff in the everyday life of
ordinary people in Japan. These ordinary “everyday” things are juxtaposed
with the “noneveryday” war, and a strange reality is produced by this
sudden juxtaposition. However, under the circumstances for poetry at the
time when this Haiku was made, the word “war” had already lost its reality
as a poetry word.
The 1980s in Japan followed a decade of rapid decline of the antiestablishment
trend, which by that time had almost been extinct. It was a time in which
social and economic “stability” and “wealth,” which were built on the
remains of that trend, brought prosperity to the Japanese people, which
was thought to be “happiness.” Also, it was a time in which what had been
buried deep inside things and people and forgotten gradually began to
rot and emit the stench.
The five artists featured in this exhibition can be said, if I categorize
them somewhat roughly, artists who work with a vision and approach of
the same nature as the Haiku poet’s.
They deal with everyday things ? which connect them with others ? deeply,
obstinately or repeatedly, and claim, through the accumulation of their
works, that the “everyday” and the “antieveryday” and “noneveryday,” which
can exist behind or on the other side of the “everyday,” are actually
things on the same dimension, for their continuity. This is what their
art is about. What has been brought out unexpectedly by their tenacious
gaze on the “everyday.” What is unknown but has been sensed just next
to us. At which points in the chain connecting one stage of the “everyday”
to another stage does it turn “anti-” and change into “non-”?
Looking at their expressions from another angle, a different aspect comes
in sight. While feeling a touch of plaintiveness, viewers find themselves
healed without noticing it. This sense of “being healed” somewhat resembles
a retrospective, introspective sense.
This might sound contradictory to what I said before, but what one should
not misunderstand is that they are not trying to depict the “noneveryday.”
Their eyes that cut out various aspects of the everyday are extremely
calm. They are serene, warm and even affectionate. But their excellent
eyes and sensibilities unintentionally reveal, at the same moment, what
exists beyond the everyday, what inevitably comes into sight.
In no other time could we realize that everybody is a member of a community
living in the same spaceship called Earth. Unfortunately, the stronger
the adversity, the clearer we realize that.
The destruction of the global environment, as it is widely known, reaches
beyond the countries’ borders, and political, economic and religious conflicts
are getting more heated and radical. The enlargement of the disparity
between the haves and have-nots and friction between them are becoming
more conspicuous in each country.
with innumerable silent flies
I finish this essay by introducing above another Haiku
by Toshio Mitsuhashi.