March 16, 2005
History of History

shrine.jpg

When K. and I were in Tokyo in 2003, we saw a curious Hiroshi Sugimoto show, L'Histoire de L'Histoire, up in the glass-block aerie of the Maison Hermès. Curious in a few ways, but none more so than the architectural model for a half-buried shrine, its underground window lined up with one of his seascapes. It turns out Sugimoto realized the scheme, a re-vision and reconstruction of an ancient shrine -- see above. Though I can't find the image of the view out to sea.

The town or prefecture or what have you has a nice interview with the artist about the shrine and, later, about his manner of working. One of my favorite parts is a quote from a turn-of-the-millenium poet, on reaching another shrine:

"I do not know what is here, but my tears flow in gratitude."

This is the essence of pilgrimage, I think, and have felt it a couple times; hope to a few more.

Then, at the end, Sugimoto talks about his standards, the extraordinarly high bar that is so palpable in his photographs.

"I began making art in my twenties, and I set a certain standard for myself at that time. I began the Theater and Diorama series at age twenty five, and that was when I set the standard for the rest of my life. I have continued to follow it without deviating ever since. I cannot explain why it happened like that at the time. I have several ideas about what I will do from now on, but until they reach a certain standard they will not become works of art. I do not know myself what will happen."

Posted by dbrown at March 16, 2005 09:39 PM
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