“The State of This World: Thought and the Arts,” the second of the Ashiya City Museum of Art and History’s “Art Trip” exhibitions, this time focuses on four contemporary artists’ works that are in some instances inspired by archaeology. They address issues of seen and unseen worlds, life and death, and the past speaking to the present.
Tatsuo Kawaguchi (b. 1940) remembers his parents planting seeds in scorched earth after World War II, watering and fertilizing them and bringing them to harvest in a miraculous transformation. His “Until the Stick of Distance” (2016) forms concentric circles of 3,500 yellow painted shells. Representing fossils they symbolize death, though within them are yellow-painted lotus seeds, symbolic of life’s potential — a reference to the fact that some prehistoric Jomon Period seeds have been germinated. Up the staircase banisters behind Kawaguchi’s central installation are lead-encased lotus seedpods on stalks creating an effect similar to the artist’s earlier work “Relation — Floating Lotus Boat” (2007). These address the issue of radioactive contamination both past and recent. Life is not seen here, but imagined at some point in the future.