Navigation and Trajectory
10:00am-6:00pm, October 24 — December 13, 2015/ admission free
All that remains is a haunted monologue.
4 videos (each 3 minutes, loop), Mixed media installation,
Clay mask, mushroom sculpture and stone arrow from the Jomon period lended by the Komakino Site Conservation Center (Aomori City Board of Education), size variable
photo: YAMAMOTO Tadasu
Creation of narratives conceived by misunderstandings and casting of a critical eye
Noemi NIEDERHAUSER was studying psychology at university, but she felt uneasy about the lack of “working with (her) hands, touching material, creating out of them.” As a unique contemporary artist, she went on to an art university and studied crafts, particularly learned ceramics practically. Her attitude to “deal with materials directly by hand,” which she has obtained from her experience of ceramic art is an important basis in Niederhauser’s creative activities even now. Later she further studied fine art in the postgraduate course at University of the Arts London’s Central Saint Martins, acquired conceptual methodologies as well as a variety of personal networks. With such extensive backgrounds, Niederhauser starts from the research in the geopolitical and historical characteristics and context of a certain place. While focusing on site-specific elements of the place, she follows a conceptual method, maintains craft-oriented intentionality and considers it important to create works calmly with her hands. Through such an approach, she creates peaceful spaces putting together various media including objects of her own making, fabric and moving images.
During this residency, she paid attention to the fact and details of a replica made to reproduce the large six-pillared building at Sannai Maruyama ruins. She created four fictional narratives regarding the six-pillared ruins and made them into installations. In the alcove at the entrance to the gallery is a piece of cloth printed with a Jomon man’s face with a bronze-like texture. On the other side of the glass door of the gallery are her installations. As if to avoid centrality or centripetal structure, each installation is displayed in the four respective corner of the exhibition room and the center of the room is a void. Each of the four installations has a video installed, and with videos and objects together, fictional narratives about the six pillars unfold. For the structure of each installation, rather than having a center or core, objects which are not large in size are placed here and there, and the wall is partially painted black at places. Some objects look like fictitious tools for some use. Each of the four narratives is treated equally without time sequence or difference in size of the scale. And the artist deals with each object of her own creation as if they were archaeological materials or artifacts. Soft objects of cloth like clothing are included in each installation. Some objects appear in the video as if in the nest of boxes. One mysterious woman appears in the video and sometimes plays with those objects. In the video images, for example, one image is divided many times and repeated, or ACAC buildings and scenery in the vicinity appear, so that a consistent narrative and a data-recording aspect of video are somewhat rejected. By vertically lining up elements of different timeframe, space and scale, her unique fantasy has been created.
The purpose and usage of constructing these six pillars at that time is not known even now, but Niederhauser got interested in the fact that the six-pillar building was reconstructed right beside its original archaeological site for the purpose such as tourism promotion. In fact, the idea of the form of the six-pillar ruins had been under discussion and the present form was decided as a result of aggregating some of the opinions. As the replica with a floor but without a roof has a strange structure somewhat different from the way of natural architecture, it looks more like a fictional creation rather than a faithful reproduction of the circumstances at that time. What is intricately incorporated there is the issue of authenticity and relationship between reality and fiction, and what is already latent is such creativity as similar to the artist’s act in reaction to the real situation, and it was closely akin to Niederhauser’s methodology of crafting artworks. She reconstructed a relationship between reality and reality-recording documentaries, and extracted four identities that this ruin might have had: a ritual site, watchtower, lighthouse and place for sensing climatic and seasonal changes. Then she created four stories related to them using objects and videos. Not revealing the correspondence between the narrative and the installation intentionally, the artist makes viewers imagine the relations themselves with the objects and videos as clues. They have to connect the pieces of narratives presented by Niederhauser to speculate like an archaeologist. The scallop-shaped object installed with a lens capturing inverted scenery in the center looks like a tool to predict the climate or to see the far distant landscape with lighthouse functions.
Niederhauser takes an attitude that putting cultural and social situations of a certain age into the realms of fantasy through misunderstandings and misinterpretations is already an artistic creation, and behind it is a highly conceptual and interesting thinking. Also it could be a sharp and critical eye at the essence of art and creation. This space filled with tranquility and mysterious atmosphere is where viewers themselves can create narratives, which might have happened by picking up, collecting and connecting a series of fictional archaeological fragments presented by Niederhauser. There, viewers would want to question once again about creative activities of art and its values.
 Interview with Noemi NIEDERHAUSER, AC2, No. 17 (Aomori: Aomori Contemporary Art Centre), 2016.