Artist: Masaya Chiba
Title: Study for let’s have an adventure #3
Curated by: Ana Iwataki and Marion Vasseur Raluy
Screening: October 9 – 30, 2017
If alive, absolutely better be friends with everyone
A landscape composed exclusively of words you learn in nursery rhymes: grass, river, road, sky, sun, clouds… With seemingly no human presence, there is no room for anything that whispers sophistication or intellect. Even if such notions were to be built up from scratch, the only raw materials available here are pebbles and plants (and not of the literary or imaginative kind, only plants whose names are unknown, for no one even bothered to look at them) and dirt that smells of nothing (life had been absent from soil after generations of intensive farming, recently abandoned after the neighboring farmhouses were set on fire by bored retirees) and maybe a few dull nuts and screws buried deep under… Combined, such raw materials would evidently only produce the worst fakeries, as cunning as drawings of blue trees and red skies kindergarteners who were told to be original made, an easy but useful trick: perhaps a dirt castle that would inevitably bring to mind a forsaken grave, perhaps a few dried stalks braided mid-way and left for the wind to trash.
Whenever weekenders from the nearby town would drive through these sterile lands on their way to the beach (a popular fishing spot), they would, without fail, roll their windows up and blast whatever poorly performed music the local radio could afford to play. Like parents forced to sit through their lovely children’s annual school play, the weekenders would endure with a rigid smile, eventually each one finding their own interest in a tiny detail. For some, their attention would focus on the zero talent lyrics coming out of the car stereo, inspiring comfortable feelings of superiority but also shame for the young singer, whose father, a famous local real-estate developer, had introduced the band earlier. He clearly had no knowledge of or interest in music, except for a few songs he used as bait, singing at bars to try to seduce younger women. After explaining to the listeners his son’s dream had always been to become a star, he cheered the band who took the stage. Everyone, said the father, please welcome my son and his band, the Hydrophobic Pirates, please support their rock and roll… A band name that most conscientious adults would cringe at. The song was dreadful, and most listeners were amazed at how little passion the music stirred in them as the singer sang about living a life of crime in the big city but ultimately finding support in your peers and being grateful for what you have. Other weekenders would look out the window, mentally shutting down their hearing, and gaze out, but their eyes would rather shut down too, and soon everyone, except the driver, would be vigorously scrolling on their phone. There is no conversation either. Inside the phones is more desert.
While the Hydrophobic Pirates perform, the singer sends occasional glances at his father, who is busy looking everywhere but at the stage. Come to think of it, the singer had never been scolded for wanting the unstable life of a rock star, and was met with no opposition by his family. His songs are a failed revolt, but that failure was exactly what made the music so dreadful and evil. The singer was astonished at the lukewarm acceptance of his project, which, even to the uncultured scum that populated his town, was blatantly of no use and no value. That precisely made it the best punk act. But it was honestly terrible, and the singer couldn’t fool himself much longer with his contorted reasoning.
During the time he sings he thinks of a hunting trip to China he had been on with his mates, looking for pandas to shoot. They made nice trims to their leather jackets with the panda fur they skinned. They would receive a lot of compliments. The radio director, upon complimenting the fur, laughed and gave the singer a clap in the back that was so rough the singer farted a little in a high- pitched sound, more beautiful than any note in their music, and reminiscent of those blue exclusive birds sometimes seen on the riversides of the regions where the pandas lived. The pandas were lazy and presented no resistance as they were killed with peaceful casualness. The hunting guide had suggested a variety of weapons, including war scythes and halberds and too many replicas of medieval arms, which were too metal for the punk-oriented band, and too heavy for their scrawny bodies. After all, the true fun in hunting is in killing with the least effort, and they all wisely used firearms. Whenever he would perform on stage, the singer would try to concentrate and bring out all his hatred for the lazy beasts that didn’t flinch even as they were massacred by young undernourished men. Hadn’t someone told him that even when it came to the most basic instinct of sex, pandas were too lazy and needed bestial pornos on loop to get them in the mood? The loosened tapes of the porno made for a blurred, fashionable black and white scenery. But the hatred usually never lasted long enough to carry a powerful performance, and in the end the singer’s own laziness took over and no one in the audience could emotionally connect to the spoiled kid’s distasteful songs, except partaking in a shared hatred for the terrible music, a hatred that mirrored the singer’s and never lasted long either… Everybody tires. And who was that older man in the shiny suit in the corner, looking around with an idiotic smile? He looked like a low-level mob accountant, which was a better look than the truth (the singer’s biological father). Suddenly his smile disappeared and after a few seconds of emotionless passivity, a frown, followed by a big demonic smile, took over his weakened face. The lingering soprano fart had just now arrived to his nose, and since the singer’s recent diet contained an indecent amount of smoked tea, also brought back from China, the perfume of the breeze was intensely foresty and reminded the old crook about his younger days spent in the mountains… He was overwhelmed and had to run out, having had the genius idea of turning the deserted lands outside of town into a resort of artificial woods and caves and whatnot. Had he thought about it calmly, surely even a moron like him would have discarded such a childish idea, but wasn’t spontaneity key in real estate business? Anything to get out of here. Let’s hope he runs straight to the desert and perishes there like a sun-dried worm. Make the scenery a little more eventful.
On the beach and its piers, weekenders enjoy fishing, a popular hobby in which most townsfolk dabble, as the only requirements are a fishing rod, easily obtainable by tricking or killing demented grandparents, and some bait, which could be substituted with snot or feces: the fish were hungry and would bite on anything. As you can imagine, such a perverted diet didn’t make the fish appealing to taste buds, and once out of the water, the fish were met with congratulatory laughs before being released. But the fish were sensitively built, contrary to their grotesque appearance, and most would die hitting the water as people threw them back in the sea. Their eyes wide open, gazing at the void, hoping for a better world. Their little mouths opening and closing in inaudible prayers. Eventually they would wash up on the shores, making the whole area reek of salty rot… The children of the weekenders and later on their children will continue this massive maritime killing, inheriting the will of the dumb. The poor fish pray hard before dying, but the children’s laughter is louder. A child’s straw hat blown in the wind, the parents running after it, stepping on the fish corpses with their bare feet, almost slipping. Better take a long shower tonight and don’t forget to scrub with a pumice.
From town to beach through the desolate lands and back again. Why not stay in and read a book instead of repeatedly engaging in such unproductive trips? There are stacks on stacks of literature at home, books waiting to be opened, just once, to be brought to life just once… Think of all the books you will die before having read. Maybe a masterpiece is hiding in there somewhere. Although that’s unlikely. Everywhere storage units filled with books forgotten by everyone. If only the fish could have been given a book each, instead of being tossed to death for fun, now that would be wonderful. These are the ideas that shape consciousness and it’s only the first step toward a better future. Please be more aware of your relationship to nature, and assess your responsability as a fellow crewmember of Spaceship Earth, the fish whisper. Perhaps a vulgarity drawn with a stick on the ground, perhaps a few pebbles gathered to form a miniature mountain… With no one around to kick it down or to erase the graffiti, why not leave a trace of your existence on this blank canvas?
Stopping in the middle of this dead zone is a foolish crime any god-fearing man would never commit. Only a man whose sanity is doubtful slows his car down to a full stop, ignoring the complaints of his weekender passengers. He steps out alone. Nobody can understand what he is thinking. He sees a landscape composed exclusively with words too abstract in their simplicity: grass, river, road, sky, sun, clouds… With seemingly no human presence, he has become a god, free to create or destroy. But there is no more destruction to be brought upon this hell. To create, one inevitably turns inward to look for material. He puts his hand in the sun and in the white light he sees his own red blood showing through. Introversion is only a few steps away from violent selfmutilation. Perhaps in the past evil guttings had happened here, and that wouldn’t be a surprise. A comet of pure abhorrence, falling down for thousand of years, passes by. It has thrived on disdain and loathing for as long as it can remember, although its exact origins are long forgotten. It feels the man’s blood, but mere blood could never fertilize anything here. It’s too late… It could fall here but no one would care. It goes on searching for tragedy and probably will for a very long time.