Monday, 3 March 2008

The best thing last week in Manchester was in the city art gallery: videos by Jun Nyughen Hatsushiba -- Japanese, lives in Ho Chi Minh City. These were on big screens and were proper films, perhaps 20 mins each. Three were underwater, with divers, some with, some without breathing apparatus. Coral and fish, strange white tent-like constructions found in trenches, over precipices, on knolls. Hard to make mundane sense of them but two appeared to be ceremonies for Christmas (strangely) and New Year, conducted underwater, one with a huge dragon manipulated by many divers, one involving what might have been a race on the sea bed, pushing bicycle rickshaws. The whole pervaded by shoals of fish. Strange falling globes that released trails of colour (food colouring, it said at the end). Streams of bubbles; distant figures rising to the surface and dropping down. Above all, beautiful, whatever its meaning. The one with the fewest swimmers was the least interesting, so that I think the appeal of the rest might have been mainly balletic.

No. 4 -- terrific -- was 20 or so long oriental boats, their motors under a bamboo shelter at the back, speeding down a fast wide brown river between jungle banks, endlessly, just before dawn, with huge motor noise. A stunning visual. In the bow of each boat, standing, a painter working on an easel. These were art students, and you saw their faces and their paintings of aspects of the scene. Towards the end, one by one they dived into the river and headed for the bank. A tree, presumably sacred, seemed to be what drew them. The easels fall in. Boats continue. The end.

No. 5 (small screen) was a documentary (no words) of Jun NH running, in several cities. He reckons over ten years to run the diameter of the earth in a number of cities. Something to do with the plight of refugees.

Now, later, looking at the Manchester City Art Galleries website I see there are links to reviews, which I haven't read, and to his website
which is great and includes images -- though the 'More' button (for video?) doesn't work for me.

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