「Passing through a rope forrest」A4 quad gallery
When I pass through the forest of the Yagi Mariyo exhibition rope,
Takenaka galley A4
“Passing through a Rope Forest” NAWA no MORI o kuguri-nukeruto
journalist Kathy Arlyn Sokol
Just as the highest quality Japanese paper is used for ink brush painting, Mariyo Yagi believes our environment should be an exquisite canvas on which to create our lives. Installations, sculptures, monuments, plazas, gardens, landscape design̶ the reach of her Art embraces them all. She even became a licensed landscape engineer and contractor to create environmentally and socially sustainable works that reflect our organic connection to the Earth. For Mariyo, Art exists at the root of life, and everything that is alive is born out of and into Art. Art is not a private or individual matter. It is universal. Mariyo dramatizes that bond in her work with the consistent leitmotif of the Spiral. The sacred Spiral rope sculptures, or Nawa, in Mariyo's World, and the world she opens to us, represent the fundamental energy̶the umbilical cord̶connecting us and all living things to the Earth and the Cosmos beyond.
Her work is deeply informed by Japan's ancient ritual aesthetics, particularly those of the Jomon Period. The Jomon civilization is the oldest known ceramic culture in the world, and the name of the period itself was taken from the Rope or Nawa imprinted patterns (MON ) on its singular pottery. No other ancient ceramics used this type of rope patterning, and it seems to indicate the Jomon people believed the Nawa motif imparted a special power to their wares.
Jomon was also known as the era of Tree Culture. Trees were used to build shelters and canoes, to make bows, combs and ceremonial ornaments, and to fashion daily implements like pails and casks. Nawa made of tree fibres and grasses were symbols of the forest's life energy. Dating back some 25,000 years, Jomon ceremonies and gathering styles still survive in Japan today. Indeed many believe that this period birthed the country's remarkable reverence toward Nature and the animistic matrix of her Arts. Japan has been a Wood Culture for thousands of years, and her traditional artisans and artists have long understood the harmonious effect of integrating Nature into daily life.
Mariyo's present exhibition, “NAWA no MORI o kuguri-nukeruto" , “Passing through a Rope Forest,” takes us on a journey back to those roots. The kanji Mori consists of the character for tree written three times to represent the Diversity within the forest. Held in Kiba Fukagawa, a once flourishing lumber town, her show is a call to regenerate Wood Culture and the veneration for Nature that it brings. For Mariyo, Trees are living filaments of the Cosmos, and her creations evoke the fertile collaborations between humanity and the natural world in the making and remaking of the lived universe.
At the same time, Mariyo honors Rope's fundamental role in advancing civilization̶from moving huge stones to build monuments and rigging great ships to explore distant lands, to facilitating agriculture and enhancing the domestic Arts. Mariyo considers the twisting of grasses into Rope as the starting point of Human Culture, and theorizes that Humans made Rope before they made Fire, learning that rubbing the hands together to entwine grasses generates frictional heat.
In Japan, Nawa is ritually used to set apart a space or object and signify its sacredness, but for Mariyo its spiral form is a more inclusive metaphor for the essential interconnectedness of all realms of Life. “The earth doesn't exist by itself. The planets and stars move together in a galactic spiral, as do the atoms in our DNA. With Nawa, there is always an interweaving̶one strand is weak, but with two or more, the Rope becomes stronger. The same is true in our social life. A single person cannot create a society. Societies, too, gain strength from the intertwining of people with diverse backgrounds, gifts and cultures, each contributing to the vitality of the greater whole.”
Her years of study with world-acclaimed artist and landscape architect, Isamu Noguchi, enthralled her with the primal power of Stones, of Water. Today she invites us into a space where we can reconnect with the syndetic energy of Trees and the spiral elegance of Nawa̶NAWA no MORI. Entering, bending, tilting...our bodies in ceaseless motion like all organic matter, like all that exists on Earth and in the Cosmos. Different shapes and lengths of Nawa rise from the ground sketching a dynamic forest Mariyo crafted from Ogakuzu , wood shavings and excelsior, gathered from all across Japan. Scattered on the floor are hand-planed shavings, imbuing the air with a sylvan scent.
She collected newspapers from around the world, recycling them to create a hollow Spiral space entitled The Travelling Isolation of MAIMAI. MaiMai, or Spiral snake, offers a symbolic path of return to the Earth's umbilical cord. The sounds of awakening that greet us as we enter into the Snake and the video images on the ceiling of Mariyo's paintings and her own CT body scans were created by Jinn Yagi, a musician, composer, video artist and Mariyo's son.
In Mariyo's Art there are no observers, only participants. In ancient Japanese, na means you and wa means I. Na Wa thus signifies our creative interac- tion, our oneness born from the Mori of our Diversity. Welcome to Mori no Nawa, Rope Forest, a celebration of Japan's inspiring Wood Culture, and to the World of Mariyo Yagi, where Art acts upon each individual to awaken us to our interdependence and the symbiotic exquisiteness of all Life.
Diversity = Mori = Oneness=Nawa