Time and Space are the two timeless themes for
artists. If there are two more subjects of importance, they are Life
and Memory. Great artists in modern art history pursued these elements
as their art language throughout their lives. All the artists who broke
a new era in art such as Picasso, Chagall, Dali, Kandinski, Duchamp, Fontana,
Matta, Boyce and Kiefer expressed these universal subjects in their works.
Kasagi Etsuko of course has these four, but uses one more element--light--because she uses photography as her artistic instrument. The artist has mastered the technique of Reproduction and Compositing made available by the state-of-the-art technology. She uses photography--record of reality--as paint and technology as a brush to construct her works whatever way she likes. The results--her works--are nothing but her life. In a way, our life history is made up of Life and Memory. She went back the time that led to her very existence to reach the time her mother lived. She went further back in Time and Space to find her grandparents and attempted to draw the Memory of happiness that she believed they had lived.
It might be impossible to reconstruct Memory of the past because you can no longer see it, nobody can tell you about it and there is no trace left. Kasagi Etsuko put herself in photographs and underlined the connection between her and the photographs. I believe that is the method she chose to delve into the mystery of unending Life, reunite herself with her family and confirm who she is.
This exhibition "Arrival after War" is part of her Memory series
of works and unfolds from the year 1946 when Kasagi's grandparents and
mother returned Sasebo from former Manchuria--north China--after a
troubled journey. The artist has traced the family in all the places
they lived in Taiwan, Manchuria, Kyushu and Kansai, except North
Korea. She visited the places that were home to her family, soaked
herself in the same sunshine and exposed herself in the same wind to
fine-tune her ear to the voices of the past. She then gave shape to
what she had experienced beyond Time and Space. Surely, the best
method for such an attempt is photography. An easy-to-process medium
with a touch of reality in it, photography reached its completion in
the 21st century as a creative art language.
The large works that almost engulf the viewer make everyone in front of them feel as if they were watching a dreamscape. The places you believe actually existed, the sense you might have been there once, the people you think you recognize, soft sunshine and gentle breeze… We all have these images deep in our memory but are usually incognizant. The artist visualized them to attempt to present who she is.
Needless to say, ‘presenting who I am’ has been the most important task of artists throughout history.
Quote from the text of Kasagi Etsuko Exhibition "Arrival after War" held at Art by Xerox Gallery, Tokyo in October 2007
Translated into English by Tomoko Oka
Beyond Space and Time