Author Archives: mariko

P Project No.1 2024 – Beppu, Ōita, Japan – film

Traditional Japanese houses are gradually being transforming into parking lots, especially in the countryside of Japan. P (for Parking lot) is expanding its territory like a living creature making everywhere look the same, with white lines and numbers drawn on the concrete surface, wiping out all the history that once existed there. It’s only a matter of time before the vacant house next door becomes another P.

Generously supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Tokyo

バーニング・ラブ Burning Love 2019 – book

The city of Yubari in Hokkaido flourished as a coal miners’ town since the early Meiji era. In this town, some coal miners who were clever with their hands and had some time to spare, started to carve coal during their break in the mine. When it was decided that the mine would be closed definitely in the late 1980s, the habit of carving coal started to expand among a large group of mine workers. The coal carvings that are displayed at shops or at people’s front doors used to be the symbols of a glorious time, but nowadays the cracks of the coal objects illustrate the state of the town, from which many people have left. I visited this town in the winter of 2017. When I entered a local ramen restaurant I received two ball shaped coal objects from a couple who owned the restaurant. From that time onwards I spent my days trying to find those black balls which were still remaining in the town. This book is the result of my journey.

torch press (JP)
104 pages
115 x 175 mm
ISBN 978-4-907562-18-2 C0070
Design: Ayumi Higuchi

The Best Dutch Book Designs 2019

Generously supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Tokyo

THE MINERS BATH HOUSE 2017 – Miyamae bath house, Yubari, Hokkaido, Japan

Miyamae bath house is a public bath that was originally built for mine workers and their families living in the nearby apartment complexes called “Tanju(炭住)” around 1970, when people didn’t have private baths. It is the oldest mining bath house that still remains in this area in its original state.

It used to be a place where different generations came together and talked about their everyday lives. Nowadays only few (mainly old) people come here for bathing, as the local government is stimulating people to move to new apartment complexes with private baths.

This bath house will likely close its doors within a few years, once everyone has moved to their new house.

Photography: Mariko Kuwahara

LE CHÂTEAU DU SAVON 2017 – walking tour, Journées Européennes du Patrimoine, La Confection Idéale, Tourcoing and Roubaix, Lille, France

Victor Vaissier was an entrepreneur who amassed a fortune from a successful business producing perfumed soap under the label “Savon du Congo.” He was famous in the early 1900s for his extravagant lifestyle and eccentric castle, and the legendary stories are still recounted today. Although the castle no longer exists, the “Château du Savon” still lives on in people’s memories.

For the Journées Européennes du Patrimoine (European Heritage Days), visitors were invited to take part in a walking tour which traces the remainings and memories of this castle as told by André Wallecan, who is an inhabitant of Roubaix.

Booklet Design: Sophie Rogg
Photography: Ayako Nishibori

Generously supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Paris

ORANGE 2017 – video, Mouvaux, Lille, France

For centuries, Lille was the center of the textile industry, until the business was destroyed by cheap imports from other countries. In some parts of the city you can still see the luxury mansions where the former textile factory owners live. During my residency there, I was invited to have lunch with one of those wealthy families. While we were having a piece of fruit for dessert, I became so fascinated by their way of eating that I decided to record it on film.

石屋さん・STONE DEALER 2016 – book

The book “Stone Dealer” is a sequel to the video “Blue Stone”. It contains recorded conversations I had with eight stone dealers. Despite the fact that the stones have lost their commercial value, the stone dealers believe that the stones have preserved their unique cultural value and they explain what that means, seen from their perspective. Presently the profession of stone dealer is about to disappear. While there used to be four hundred of them, now only a handful of them are active in the stone business. One former stone dealer says: “Even when your body and bones are gone, the Sanbaseki stone will remain there and protect you forever.” This book shows that the value of natural objects is located in the personal stories and life histories they entail. It is a tribute to the stone dealers of Onishi.

torch press (JP)
244 pages
130 x 190 mm
ISBN 978-4-907562-07-6
Design: Akiko Wakabayashi

Generously supported by the Creative Industries Fund NL and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Tokyo

BLUE STONE 2016 – video, Shiro Oni Residency, Gunma, Japan

The city of Onishi is well-known for its blue colored stones called “Sanbaseki”, which are used as decoration for Japanese gardens. Thanks to the booming stone business in Japan between the ’60s and ’80s, the city as well as some of its stone dealers became extremely wealthy. Although the popularity of the stones has waned, you can still find many blue stones along the streets and in front of people’s houses as you walk through the city. By tracing those stones, which seem to be overlooked nowadays, the way of life of people in Onishi comes to life.

Video: Mariko Kuwahara
Editing: Eva Sjerps

BLUE STONE 2015 – screening, Kurosawa’s living room

PARA PARA 2016 – dance performance, Lost & Found, Amsterdam

“Para Para” (パラパラ) is a style of disco dance that occurred in the ’80s in Japan. It is said that it started when a university student introduced moves he learnt from the gymnastic class in a disco in Tokyo. Para para is a group dance that is characterised by the typical arm movements that are performed at the exact same time in the exact same way. Although the Western dance especially in the club scene is about self-expression, Para Para is all about being part of the group. During Lost & Found the visitors were invited to follow us to form a big Para Para dance group to experience the joy of becoming one.

Dancers: Masaki Komoto and Mariko Kuwahara
Music: Dark In The Night / MAIO & CO

BEING (COLOR) 2014 – performance, Volksroom, Brussels

Eurythmy is a dance form developed by Rudolf Steiner. The dance functions as a language that communicates the inner essence of things in form and gesture. Because this dance form is based on strict rules that are hard to decipher for outsiders, we asked Eurythmy dancers to explain the essence of Eurythmy to contemporary dancers in order to make those rules visible. Some members of the audience were asked to take part in research on the expression of the inner essence of color.

Eurythmy dancers: Anne Meeldijk, David Verbeeck
In collaboration with Cathalijne Smulders

REHEARSAL 2014 – Workshop, Trade School, W139, Amsterdam

We organized a performance in the form of a workshop in which we let the participants experience the essence of Eurythmy. We used the rules and gestures of Eurythmy and created an array of movements that no longer convey the meaning they had in their original context, thereby liberating Eurythmy from its original restrictions and exploring new possibilities in its visual language.

In collaboration with Cathalijne Smulders
Photography: Naoyuki Hata

LET US SING, DANCE AND PRAISE THE HIGHEST 2014 – performance, Open Garden Days, Herengracht 480, Amsterdam

This performance is the outcome of our research on how to experiment with the visual form of Eurythmy without the dance losing its essence. We made a script based on the rules of Eurythmy and translated them in new gestures. The performance was shown in a private garden during the Open Garden Days.

Dancers: Masaki Komoto, Julio Reyes Montesinos, Cathalijne Smulders, Mariko Kuwahara
Singer: Reina Waagenaar
In collaboration with Cathalijne Smulders
Photography: Naoyuki Hata

LIGHT US UP 2013 – performance, Entropy Night, W139, Amsterdam

Two worlds that never meet were brought together in this performance. Former drug addicts and homeless people can produce colorful candles in a work center in Amsterdam which is run by a non-profit organization. Here the candle makers are paid 5 euros per day just for showing up. We used the same method to realize the performance: before the performance we handed out candles made in the work center to men hanging around in parks in Amsterdam and asked them to bring them to W139 in exchange for 5 euros. We instructed them to light their candles when entering the building and leave them in the room. The people roaming the streets of Amsterdam and the people coming together in art spaces overlapped for the duration of the performance confronting us with the rules of our social belief systems and its paradoxes.

In collaboration with Cathalijne Smulders
Photography: Ayako Nishibori