film installation at Yamakiwa Gallery
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"This film was made during a short residency program in Niigata Prefecture in Japan. Following the project’s theme about the collective memory of mothers, I proceeded by interviewing some of the mothers that I met in the small village of Kamiebiike, while staying at Yamakiwa Gallery. Only about ten houses still remain in the once thriving village and most of the young people have already left. I recorded the voices of the women that I met, talking about their own mothers, their memories of child raising, lullabies that they sung to their children and also about their future wishes. In addition, I was interested in the local history of Koyasu-Jizo, which is a type of stone statue of a deity in Japanese folklore. Generally in Japan, there are many kinds of Jizo along roads and pathways but these ones are especially rare as they are depicted as a mother nursing a newborn baby. The area is sadly known for having a high death rate of newborns so this is the main reason why there are many of these Jizos all over the town. In Matsunoyama, there are a high number of Koyasu Jizo statues breast-feeding their babies with uncovered breasts.
In this film, I explore the representation of mothers through these Jizo statues as well as the memories of mothers who prayed to them for their children. I also explored how these memories are passed down from generation to generation. The image of Koyasu Jizo and the voices of local women are merged together in the video as if the voice is whispering to the Jizo.
The images and emotions that emerged by tracing their individual memories through the interview process creates a unique image of each mother, as well as a collective undefined image of a mother figure.