Akio Suzuki: Hana / Otodate in Torino
Akio Suzuki's work operates on the threshold between sound and visual art. Although profoundly rooted in certain cultural codes of his native Japan, Suzuki feels equally drawn to Western culture, in whose ambit he wanders, buoyed up by an explorer's spirit of curiosity. Moved by a desire to know a world other than his own, his observations and actions are nonetheless determined by his native culture, a sense of belonging revealed in the profound bond he feels with nature ("Nature is my teacher...").
Perhaps the most telling example of Suzuki's approach are his 'otodate' itineraries which meander somewhat fleetingly and erratically through various urban centres (Berlin, Paris and now Turin), pausing every now and again to mark out sites interesting for their unusual acoustic or visual properties.
Otodate is a Japanese word, the ideograms which compose it, oto and date signifying respectively 'listen' and 'point', hence 'listening point'. Tracing upon asphalt, stone or any solid support a circular sign inscribed with two specular figures which at once represent a pair of ears and two human footprints, Akio marks out the site of an experience that promises to be literally 'exceptional' for anyone who takes the time to pause there a moment and place their feet on the two signs within the circle: a momentary exception from how they would normally inhabit the surrounding space-time continuum that will allow them, simply by using their own eyes and ears, to perceive the world in a new way. The experience may be even more powerfully affecting if the place in question is already well known to the subject and they have a long established manner of inhabiting it which the work then overturns, letting them see and hear it as though for the first time...
Equally affecting in its apparent simplicity is "Hana" (flowers), another work that situates itself in relation to a particular space, this time that of the gallery which, in a manner similar to "Otodate" 's chosen spaces of transit, becomes the work's true protagonist. It's as though the object constructed by the artist (or in the case of "Otodate" the sign) acted as a lever, setting in motion a mechanism which has the effect of transfiguring the space itself, making it abnormal in a way that our ordinary experience has the tendency to conceal, and thus withdraw, from perception. Here, a simple white wooden plinth is placed at the centre of the space and, set upon it, an equally simple white porcelain vase into whose narrow mouth a bunch of freshly cut flowers are then inserted. That's all, just these few elements gathered at the centre of the space. And yet the space no longer appears to be empty, or rather, the surrounding emptiness now seems to signify something quite different from our usual (Western) perception of this state, giving the impression of being more active, much tauter somehow, charged with an immanent vitality that converses with the image of the flowers in the vase.
Akio defines "Hana" as a sound work, alluding to a phenomenon he has often observed and which is essential to understanding his own aesthetic universe, that of the echo, which he experienced for the first time during his youth in Japan. You launch a cry into space, and the sound (or your perception of it) is modified slightly before it returns to you after a few seconds. What the cry's outward and return trajectory describes, in fact, is the form and nature of the space in that precise moment.
For the whole of the show's duration the 'sound phenomenon' represented in "Hana" will be renewed each day by a different person replacing the flowers of the previous day with a freshly cut bunch.
Saturday the 25th February, starting at 6 pm, "aeolian sound", a performance for 'analapos', 'suzuki-type glass harmonica', etc., will be held by Akio Suzuki at borgovico 33, in via Borgo Vico 33, Como.