Asian Art News
By Lucy Birmingham
"Rosslyd Piggot, Roberto Giostra and Edison at Omotesando Hills"
Omotesando Hills offers an exciting new alternative for visual artists – an impressive 2-meter x 8-meter LED video screen facing onto the main street, located at one far end above the Shinsei Bank office. Unlike most big screens clogging Tokyo’s commercial byways, this one offers the bank’s corporate imagery along with generous space and time for artistic works. This is a very first for Tokyo and actually one of the few venues of this kind available in the world. Johnnie Walker of A.R.T. (Art Residency Tokyo) heralded the initial negotiations with executives at Shinsei Bank who ultimately gave him the go ahead to curate the first 3-minute video work showing through mid-July. Titled “Yamazakura” (mountain cherry tree), the work is a collaboration between Australian artist Rosslynd Piggott, Italian photographer Roberto Giostra and Australian glass artist Edison.
Piggott has long been attracted to Japan and its rich floral culture. Surrounded by abundant flora in her native Australia, observations of nature and its cultural adaptations, using themes like flowers and blossoms have often appeared in her well-known paintings and installations. Branches of cherry blossoms are featured in this, her first video work, which opened appropriately at the peak of the cherry blossom season. As simplistic as the theme may seem, the cherry blossom is deeply rooted in Japan's cultural heritage, a classic artistic motif and an iconic symbol of life. The flowers bloom gloriously only to quickly fade in showers of falling petals — strength and beauty amidst fragile impermanence — often equated with the samurai spirit.
Piggott and Giostra filmed the Yamazakura cherry trees located along the moat surrounding the Imperial Palace where each tree is methodically numbered. Piggott says she is fascinated by this kind of attention and care in Japan where nature is so closely observed, controlled and abstracted, and then ultimately transformed into Japanese culture in so many different and complex ways.
Displayed within the Shinsei Bank office is a small installation of Piggott's glass vessels designed by Edison, in which she collected air from underneath the filmed cherry blossom trees. Piggott has been collecting air for her installations since 1992, originally inspired by Marcel Duchamp's work titled "Air of Paris." And although a poetic gesture, she was told that this is a scientific practice. Many findings can be made by examining air samples, including the direction of the wind and temperature of the day. The glass vessels are contained within silk bags made from kimono material along with mysterious photos that relate to the exhibition. Piggott says she likes the idea of collecting invisible information like the air and photos, conjuring for the viewer an imagined idea of place and experience.