grateful to Mit Hendrickx, my Mother
21 sculptures in ceramics, unique pieces, clay fired on 1050°
Marie Julia Bollansee, modelling 21 portraits of my mother
21 blue tarpaulins
video, 11’18” on 27”PVM
Marie Julia Bollansee, concept, camera, editing
FUKAZAWA Shichiro, The Ballad of Narayama, text
KOGA Rieko en FUJII Sayuri, voices
Cynthia Vertessen, photographs of the installation
an elaborate inventory of the installation, you can find it here
‘Narayama’ literally means “The Mountain with the Oaks”. Narayama is a
mythical mountain in the North of Japan where old people are brought to die.
FUKAZAWA Shichiro wrote ‘The Ballad of Narayama’ in 1956. We became acquainted
with the story in Europe thanks to the film adaptations that were made. It is
a fairy tale about this mythical mountain and about life in the village at its
foot. Two elderly people have reached the age of 70, O Rin and her neighbour
Mata-yan, so their time to go to Narayama has come….
Now that my mother and I regularly go out for walks together, I have noticed there are also many oaks in our village. My mother is in a wheelchair and I push her along. We take our walks under the oak trees, towards the graves of her loved ones, to her friend in Huize Walden, to the Trappist Abbey, to the all but vanished ruins of my grandmother’s house,… The film was recorded during the walks I took with my mother, with the camera mounted on the wheelchair. The texts were recorded by KOGA Rieko and FUJII Sayuri, both of them artists who work in Tokyo and in Paris. They read the ‘lines of the pilgrimage’ from FUKAZAWA’s ‘The Ballad of Narayama’ from the original Japanese story. This film is part of the installation NARAYAMA, together with 21 portraits of my mother.
This summer I modelled portraits of my mother at all stages of her life, from the age of 7 to 90 years old. I installed a studio in the garden shed of her flower and vegetable garden, so I could be close to her. My mother keeps old photographs in a tin. Every photograph tells a story. She has written the dates on the back of the photographs; her whole existence allows itself to be read, her life surrounded by her family members, whom she has always take care of. The white ceramics on a tarpaulin-blue background bear a clear resemblance to the Renaissance Madonna’s by the Della Robbia brothers. The blue tarpaulins hold the sculptures of a human life and I ascribe to them the imagined road to Narayama.
_ Étude a propos des chansons de Narayama, Shichiro Fukazawa, pub. Gallimard 1959, translated from the Japanese into French by Bernard Frank, p. 20._