At the Racetrack August 1, 2001
It was on April 2, 2001 when Cai Guo Qiang discovered the Obihiro
racetrack. Back then, I was really concerned about the exhibition
space for Demeter. I had some ideas but, however, had not come to
any conclusions. The exhibition space was a very important issue
as I was planning site-oriented installations.
I ofcourse knew that Obihiro had a racetrack. But I had never considered
it as an exhibition space since I thought it had horse races all
year round. After we had formally met the mayor, we went up to the
lobby of the City municipal office where you can look over the city.
Cai pointed out the racetrack and asked everyone what it was. Someone
said, "Oh, it's a racetrack ," and we decided to go over there.
So we happened to visit there and it had a strange atmosphere. Passing
through the stand where racing papers were sold, the booth for tipsters,
and gate, we came to the enormous stands. There was no one there.
We thought it must be closed that day, but something looked strange.
There was a room called the "Fan Room" where several men were watching
TV with their eyes glued to the screen. It seemed that they were
watching a horserace being held somewhere else.
A little confused, I went to the stable area to the west. There
was no one there around the mansard- style stables. We finally found
some people and went up to them. There were five horses and a man
well past middle age. There was a young couple, who seemed like
his son and daughter-in- law, taking care of horses, with three
children playing nearby. The horses were "Banba," huge work horses
that are mixed with Breton horses.
When asked if these were the only horses, the old man said, "Yes,
there were about seven hundred horses several days ago. But they
were all sent to Asahikawa. We are also moving away from here."
Listening to his explanation, I started to understand the situation.
There is no regular racing here any more. They only have the "Banei
racing" in the winter, which is unique to Hokkaido. These people
were horse trainers and they and their families move around in Hokkaido
with their horses. "Gypsy racing;" I was wondering about their lives
and I saw their sincere smiles, common among nomads.
Then, those Banba eyes! The horses stared at me with wide-open eyes
as if seeing right through me. Horses are strange creatures. Especially
facing those enormous Banbas, I felt something divine. As I walked
further into the stable, everyone there already realized that this
landscape had some mysterious power. Everyone from Obihiro who were
there with us seemed to be recalling the days from the past. It
was a rather barren sight with snow left on the ground, but this
place had some reminders from Obihiro in the old days. I understood
the feeling even though I was not from Obihiro. What was this overpowering
feeling of nostalgia? At that point, I decided to develop Demeter
at this site. (Written by Serizawa Takashi)