That letter might never be read but will be certainly received
2017–2018, pencil on paper handmade from tree barks and its burial in mountain soil
This is a piece for an exhibition organized to show artworks to a mountain. The participating artists got together in a small village at the foot
of an mountain on an island named Yakushima and we stayed there for two weeks to work while discussing the possibility of whether or not
a mountain can experience an exhibition.
In Yakushima, rituals based on mountain worship, from the time when mountains were still feared and people would never climb mountains
for leisure, remain still now. The most noteworthy among them is otake mairi, where people climb a nearby mountain two times a year, in spring
and autumn, to make a prayer for rich harvest (to thank for the last one and wish for the next one). The ritual is done for the mountain, but does
the mountain perceive it? What is it for a mountain to experience human events, including an exhibition, taking place on itself? These are the
questions that drove my working process.
For this project, I first peeled off the bark of a tree in the village and I handmade a sheet of my own paper with it. Then, I wrote a letter to the
mountain using hieroglyphic signs that I myself invented by interpreting patterns of seashells found on a beach of the island. Finally, on my own,
I climbed up the mountain, to which the villagers go for their otake mairi ritual, buried the letter at a certain spot, poured local sake over it, and
joined my hands. It was my own ritual, following the tradition.
Such a letter will not be understood by a mountain, but even so, we humans cannot help saying something to greater beings. Even though the
mountain will not be able to read my words, the buried letter will be slowly decomposed in the soil and become a part of the mountain — the
letter will be received.