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Written by Takeshi HIRATA   
Published: May 14 2009

fig. 1 "Boki" (2008); image provided by Take Ninagawa, copy right(c) Yuuki MATSUMURA / Courtesy of Take Ninagawa

fig. 2 "untitled" (2009); image provided by Take Ninagawa, copy right(c) Yuuki MATSUMURA / Courtesy of Take Ninagawa

fig. 3 "Flesh" (2009); image provided by Take Ninagawa, copy right(c) Yuuki MATSUMURA / Courtesy of Take Ninagawa

     What does Jackie Chan leave behind?

     The well-known movie star, Jackie Chan, performs as a leading actor in action movies in which he fights against various enemies and defeats evil. In movies, he sometimes fights using his own body and at other times uses his personal belongings. After the fight, he leaves behind various things scattered all over the place, such as destroyed buildings, broken furniture and fixtures, and fragments of glass and dishes.

     Let me recall the movie entitled “Police Story (traditional Chinese: 警察故事, Ging chaat goo si”) (1985). In the final scene of the movie, a shopping mall turns into a battlefield and various items and shop displays in the mall are smashed up one after another during the fight. Glass cases are broken as bad guys fall through them and pieces of furniture are used as weapons in the fight. Finally, under the vaulted ceiling, Jackie himself slides down a pole supporting some chandeliers and even breaks their light bulbs and electrical wires.

     Well, so much for preliminaries. Let’s focus on the main subject. When I saw the work entitled “Boki” (2008) [fig. 1], which was created by Yuuki Matsumura, I leaped to the conclusion that the work indicated smashed wood, such as that left after a fight in a Jackie Chan movie, because the noise of splitting wood sounds like “Boki”. Needless to say, “Boki” was not created with materials which had been used for making a Jackie Chan movie set, nor was it inspired by his films. This work is said to be the result of Matsumura’s response to the challenge of reproducing accidentally split wood which he had found in his atelier.

     Similarly, Matsumura’s other work entitled “untitled” (2009) [fig. 2] was created by reproducing broken pieces of car body resulting from an accident. This work is composed of three aluminum plates, the colors of which are yellow, white and red. Processed into the same form, irregularly but with traces of violence, these plates are arranged in a line. Such “violence” was caused naturally (or by someone). Matsumura displays materials which were broken by accident not “as they were” but after “reproducing” them. What we viewers find in his works is not the weakness of damaged materials but the strength of them. Why? I suppose the reason is that we find his will to “reproduce” broken materials in his works.

     Assuming that the destruction is an artificial or natural violation, evidence of it will be left afterwards. Observing a bias towards the power which has been applied to destroy materials and reproducing them seems to be similar to the “violence (action)” which is used in a Jackie Chan movie by the main character who has been motivated by his “faith”. In the same way, Matsumura also imparts “violence” to materials according to his faith, in a similar way to the hero of a Jackie Chan film.

     Of course, “action” by Matsumura is more modest than Jackie’s work. Matsumura’s action is limited to the level of stacking hundreds of rumpled pages of pornographic magazines (“Flesh” (2009) [fig. 3]). The enormous number of pages from pornographic magazines does not give us a physical image that evokes desire but represents the mass of “paper” itself and presents traces of violence by accumulating materials.

     We sometimes recognize the existence of materials by looking at traces, scars, loss and disappearance that result from destruction. Or, we sometimes detect the nature of the materials themselves when we find them “damaged”. In other words, we feel the life within materials, such as wood, aluminum and paper, from their cracks, creases and reflections which have occurred due to the destructive forces directed towards them, as we find textures, glazing and color tone appearing in these folds arising from the ruins. What we feel at that time is not the weakness but the strength of the materials. Matsumura’s works, which have been created by “reproducing” destroyed materials, show they were created from his faith and energy in recreating ruined materials as precisely as possible. Standing in the gallery, I felt a frantic atmosphere, which is the same mood we feel after Jackie Chan leaves the battlefield in a movie.
(Translated by Nozomi Nakayama)

Last Updated on July 05 2010

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