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The last performance of the Niigata Water and Land Art Festival of 2009 took place on Dec. 26th in/on the pond of a Shrine in the mountains of Niigata province, in a special place called Fukui (in Nishikan).  Hisako Horikawa, dance, and the singer/drummer Kotagi performed in/on/with the amazing exhibit created by the Irish artist, Caoimhghin O’Fraithile.   His monolithic work, entitled “‘Fifteen Degrees South’ [Tears of my Father]” was a gigantic bamboo, wood, straw, paper, stone “house” of sorts.  Check this out

We were not allowed to take photos or video… I actually tried to, but the strong wind, smoke from the fires they created, and freezing cold prohibited any decent recording (that Idid) of the event. I do hope they will post online some of this event.  I can’t imagine anyone could have caught with a camera the sheer magic and gorgeous artistic depth of the performers…  This was one of the most profound performances I’ve ever witnessed.  It was another one of those experiences I keep seem to be having here in Japan where the Kami control the events.

When I say the artists performed in/on the pond, I’m not exaggerating.  The exhibit, as you can see is astounding.  But what really made the event enraptured was the environment: the weather, and how the artists dealt with the challenging situation.  It was freezing cold, extremely windy, intermittent rain and very slushy.  The artist, instead of shying away from this, used it all to their advantage, to call forth the deities of the pond, the shrine, the mountains, the trees, the wind, the clouds, the fire and of the now-weathered house of O’Fraithile, which was built in June.

And the Wind spirits came.  The Wind played with the fires, the smoke…taunting the audience by creating incredible smoke shapes, swirling and dancing in the air and towards us, sometimes sending the flames directly at us.  The Wind played with the water, changing the pond’s surface, and lapping up mini-waves.  The Wind also played on the house, swishing the paper and bamboo, creating more music for the artists to react to.

Hisako was spirited herself, transformed into a Kami, and brought us into her world.  When she walked into the water, we all gasped a little, understanding just how difficult it must be to walk in that freezing cold water.  But when she went into the water, with a gesture of dying, falling, floating, and becoming one with the pond, the audience stopped breathing too.  The Wind died.  The fires seemed to stay still for a moment.  We all seemed to die a little with her.

There we were. About 25 people, freezing, standing in the ice, dying… and then.


When she came back to life, we all did, and with renewed vigor and strength.  Suddenly, it wasn’t so cold, or at least, it was tolerable.  The show was over and I was one of the lucky few invited to a gorgeous meal in a 250 year old home…

It was time to celebrate…


One Comment

  1. Jane, thanks for the Alice’s Attic foto. Your adventures continue to amaze and move me!

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