toshiaki tomita

Story Telling Evening
(in collaboration with Asa Sonjasdotter). installation based on the events which named "Story Telling Eveing".
Collected stories from story tellers, table & chairs, cushions, a stage light, a room lamp, tea.
"Blind Date: a Danish/Japanese Dialogue", Odense City Museum, Odense, Denmark, 2002.

……We began exchanging mails in preparation for Blind Date, but I had the feeling that communication just writing was unbalanced. Although it was prohibited by the rules of Blind Date, we secretly started communicating by phone when the dialogue got more detailed and involved. Since communication is multi-dimensional, I often feel that its unconscious, unintentional hidden processes are more meaningful that what is happening on the surface……I told Asa that our focus during our time in Denmark was not on working together for the exhibition but on the everyday meetings and events, so it would be enough to exhibit a work based on these meetings and events. Our first “Event” was Asa’s “Silent Game”, in which we spent a period of time together without talking. After that we held a storytelling session and a few workshops with students of the art school where she was teaching. Sitting and just listening or talking while trusting the listeners creates a unique world containing the storyteller and the listeners. A kind of interchanges is taking place here, but it’s hard to say exactly what it is. It’s a very powerful experience…… (interview with Toshiaki Tomita, Password: a Danish/Japanese dialogue cat.)
……we found a work rhythm quite quickly; we wrote long letters to each other, but two or three weeks could easily pass by, before the other answered. We preferred this to sending short messages every day. I believe we both used the dialogue to think about things – to reflect on them. It turned out that we had a number of things in common in our work and methods…….for instance, our preoccupation with people. And our interest in using art directly, in relation to ones own situation……when Toshiaki wrote me that “The exhibition is not important – the important thing is meeting,” I felt he said something significant: we had to forget the fact that there was to be an exhibition, we did not have to be “talented.” It was more important to have faith in the possibilities in the encounter. In the conceptual situation that Blind Date was, it would have been more honest if we had exhibited an empty room and said “well, nothing happened” than simply doing a pirouette……At the time I was working at a high school, so it seemed obvious to work together with the students around this concept of narration and toying with ideas of narrative and presence. We held a workshop and tries various storytelling exercises. The exhibition piece was a result of an evening where the students told stories……We had no concrete set of rules for the stories but we had done three preliminary practice rounds to encourage the students to tell stories. For instance Toshiaki had a game where one had to describe oneself, but the catch was that you had to lie. The group did not know each other beforehand, so the act of presenting themselves, and lying, opened up for a lot of things. At the exhibition in the Kunsthallen Brandts Klaedefabrik, you could sit in a circle and listen to the stories. We made a room that could be inspirational, and the children’s workshops that is affiliated to the museum, used the exhibit. They listened to the stories, and they could tell their stories……In a way it would be better if we had placed it in another context than Kunsthallen Brandts Kladefabrik, for instance, if we had held workshops around the city, where people come every day. When people entered the space, they experienced it at first as an installation – as an aesthetic experience. And that wasn’t what we were aiming at. (Asa Sonjasdotter)
……In Blind Date, I could not choose my partner, shared no particular knowledge with her, and hadn’t decided what kind of work to create. Because the objective of this project was the actual process of dialogue with Asa Sonjasdotter, we had more than a little conflict when we came to produce a work for exhibition. The ideas we had prepared lost their meaning and collapsed. When even the walls of the exhibition space had been removed and only our work desk was left, with two exhausted artists witting at it, it seemed to me that the most real thing was the desk where our constantly changing dialogue had taken place. Everything we had created there suddenly seemed empty. That was very interesting. (Toshiaki Tomita)
…… In our exhibit you could interact with the piece. The element the children used the most was the stage we had made. We had set a red spot light on the wall, so that you could place yourself “in the Light.” And the other children could sit on the cushions. It functioned very well, the kids loved standing up on the stage and singing for each other. So the possibility to seize the situation and put ones own experiences and stories in it, was there. But we could use more time to get everything in place. (Asa Sonjasdotter)

installation view