Kopeikin Gallery
Los Angeles
2766 La Cienega Blvd
Hiroshi Watanabe
dal 14/11/2014 al 19/12/2014

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Kopeikin Gallery


Hiroshi Watanabe

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Hiroshi Watanabe

Kopeikin Gallery, Los Angeles

The project, The Day the Dam Collapses, has recently been published by Daylight books. Accompanying the photographs is a poem by the wonderful writer, Kristen Rian.

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Disaster movies, like the ones with infernos, big earthquakes, or the arrival of aliens, often begin with depictions of normal daily life. For instance, we watch a mother trying to wake up a child, who resists getting up but then runs to school without having breakfast, while the mother shakes her head as her husband ignores the whole episode with his face buried in the newspaper. These mundane scenes are usually avoided in other types of movies, but they bear importance in disaster movies. The viewers know that what they are watching is a disaster movie, and so they sense these mundane scenes are in fact preludes to the terrible and unusual thing that will happen to the people on the screen.

What is important here is the fact that while the audience anticipates it, the movie characters do not know they may be involved in a huge, horrible disaster. The audience is in a sense like prophets looking down from above the clouds on the people who are living peacefully only because they are not aware of what is about to happen.

The truth is, we are all living like the characters in a disaster movie. We know we may some day face a disaster or a terrible event, but we keep living calmly because we do not know exactly what might occur and when it would be. But a disaster will surely come to us. And the largest disaster must be our death, which we all have to face sometime in the future. We are like people living at the base of a dam that has no outlet for the water that is filling it. We cannot see the other side of the dam, where water is constantly increasing. We don’t know how much water is accumulating or how fast. We are only vaguely aware that the dam will collapse some day when it cannot hold the weight of the water any longer.

In this frame of mind I look at my own daily life and I see many signs, as if someone is trying to give me hints. How am I coping with these signs that appear before me from time to time?

In my earlier life, I sometimes felt uneasiness about the fact that I would die some day. I remember it was not so much the fear of dying but rather a kind of sadness about the fact that the world will continue to exist forever after my death. Perhaps my family and close friends will remember me and even mourn my death for some time. Nonetheless, people will be walking the streets as before and the world will go on. And it will be like that forever.

I actually experienced something similar. Many years ago, I was playing hide-and-seek with my daughters in our house. Before then, I had found a space between the walls inside the closet by the main entrance, just large enough for one person. So I hid myself there. My daughters did not know of this place, and they looked for me for a very long time. I decided to stay there to see what might happen. After a while, my daughters became tired of the game and went back to their previous activities at the table. They spoke with their mother, but there was no mention of me. They seemed to have forgotten about me completely. I felt a strange sadness realizing that my family could adjust to my absence and live their lives without me. A few years later, it became reality as a result of divorce.

In the past, this uneasy feeling would come back time to time, but now it no longer returns. One reason, I think, is the birth of my son. I am aware that he is not me, that he is an individual human being with his own identity, but each time I see some resemblance to me in him, it reconfirms to me that he has my genes. I cannot help but feel happy, as if he will continue my life even after my death.

Surely people will go on living after my death and the world will continue, but eventually everyone dies. In fact, ten thousand years from now, the human species will be extinguished; in five hundred million to five billion years, all life will be killed by the heat of an enlarging sun; and the Earth will be engulfed by it in 7.5 billion years. At least that is what I hear. And after ten to the power of one hundred years, the universe will end. After that, time will continue eternally.

No matter how long I or my descendants live, everything will end, and time will be left alone in eternity. Any number divided by infinity is virtually zero. In essence, my life and death have no bearing at all. It is useless to think about it. When I realized this, I felt a great release, and since then, I no longer experience that uneasy feeling.

Now I don’t have that feeling, but the conclusion that remained was that my life has no meaning. Is it true that what I have been living and will live has no meaning at all? It doesn’t really bother me. I know my honest feelings. I will do anything for my family’s happiness. And when I can, I try to fulfill my own small dreams. If I can do that, I am happy and it all has deep meaning for me. I am atheist and don’t believe some superior being provides meaning or value to my life. I believe those things are up to each individual and all we have to do is to be honest to ourselves.

Opening: 15 November 2014

Kopeikin Gallery
2766 S La Cienega Blvd (at Washington) - Los Angeles, California 90034
Tues - Sat 11:00 - 5:00

Kevin Cooley and Phillip Andrew Lewis
dal 10/1/2014 al 21/2/2014

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