Youki Hirakawa “A Film By”
[Image: Youki Hirakawa "a film by #M.E. 1928" (2021) 4K, Approx. 4min 30sec, silent]
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Youki Hirakawa was born in 1983. Under the theme of “time and memory” residing in place and things, he has produced video artworks that apply media archaeology. His “Lost Films” series of recent years has been acclaimed in Japan and abroad and invited to be screened at numerous film festivals. In 2019, these included the International Film Festival Rotterdam, (the Netherlands), International Short Film Festival Oberhausen (Germany), and Short Waves Festival (Poland). His major exhibitions include “Until You Fall into a Deep Sleep” (Minokamo City Museum, Gifu, 2013), “Aichi Triennale 2013,” “Sapporo International Art Festival 2014,” “19th DOMANI The Art of Tomorrow” (The National Art Center, Tokyo, 2016), and “Streaming Heritage | Twenty Five Thousand Years to Trap a Shadow” (Streaming Heritage Art Festival, Nagoya, 2021).
Hirakawa’s third exhibition at Ando Gallery features the latest three works from his series, “a film by,” which gives striking new development to his “Lost Films” theme. (The title “a film by” refer to the director’s name credit at the beginning or ending of a movie.) While producing “Lost Films,” Hirakawa became interested in a particular fact. This was that, although many pre-war films are missing or lost, movie stills from the lost films are plentifully found. A film that once told a story now exists only in a still photograph—a mere fragment in which slight traces of the film’s story can be discovered. To produce “a film by,” Hirakawa sought out still photographs of missing pre-war Japanese films and recreated and filmed the space and props of the photographed scenes in his studio. Often, the original film was difficult to identify from the still photo, in which case Hirakawa worked to ascertain/recreate the film from exceedingly minimal information—the combination of actors, for example, or name of the production company. According to Hirakawa, this was like the process of an archaeologist excavating a ruin and imagining the building that once stood there.
As the camera slowly scans across the dark recreated space, we see not only props but plaster-made hands, ears, and other fragments of people’s bodies. By means of plaster, Hirakawa recreates actors no longer living in this world, displaying their body, we might say, as a “shell.” The body thus reproduced only in plaster has a certain anonymity, allowing Hirakawa to employ it as a common element in multiple films of created photo scenes. In addition, his re-creation of only small parts of the body, so that the body as a whole disappears, can be regarded as a metaphor for the structure of the work, itself. One recreated film scene is shorter than a single cut from the missing movie, but Hirakawa displays the scenes in the same space, one the same time axis, with result that cuts from films originally having no relation take on a pliant connection and evoke the outlines of a new narrative.
Recreated by a single artist, the fragments of multiple stories constitute one large narrative. While based on recreating pre-war Japanese movies, “a film by” is more than a mere movie remake. It is also questions our nature as beings who will die, the irreversible nature of time, and the human intent behind art to, even then, attempt to record the moment.
from June 22, 2021 to August 07, 2021