2002 - February 2002
Starting from January 15, 2002, Shigeaki Iwai visited Obihiro
for a month. He conducted interviews for the project entitled
"Yuki no Upopo," with more than a hundred Tokachi
people attending. The interviewees enthused over the experience,
with such comments as "I sensed snow again in a new
way," and "I thought of snow for the first time
in my life." The local people had a new sense of surprise
and discovery. This project truly involved the people. The
work will be exhibited in a stable in the racehorse track
during the exhibition period. As you might imagine, Tokachi
people are already excited about the work: "I can't
wait to see how it is made into an artwork." Iwai,
who gained weight on Tokachi food, as written in our newsletter,
is asking for information on good, cheap restaurants to
be included on the Demeter Website. Based on the information
on the bulletin board, he is looking for a good hidden restaurant
in Obihiro. He likes the type of little bars found underneath
train rails and has a definite opinion on the balance of
price and taste. A soba shop owner really liked Iwai and
treated him, "Eat this, eat that," every time
Iwai visited the restaurant. An Iwai fan (a woman) said,
"he is such a down-to-earth artist, and cool!"
She wants Iwai to "depict Tokachi in a nice way."
Shigeaki Iwai recently came back from Kellerberrin, Australia
where he was on an artist-in-residence program. Kellerberrin
is a little town with a population of about one thousand,
located about a hundred seventy kilometres east of Perth.
We thought there would be a cultural gap between his previous
experience and Obihiro, but he said to us, " one third
of the population in Kellerberrin are aboriginals and they
know about Ainu people very well." Recent interests
of Iwai are focused on the issues of communities, such as
multi-cultures, and the relationship between native people
and newcomers. Obihiro, which has a history of immigration
and long traditional culture, embodies the very qualities
that interest Iwai. Iwai has been busy listening to Ainu
people and visiting Oozora-cho (a planned community). He
said that he wants to stay in Obihiro for one month a year.
But, he gained two kilograms during his two-day stay, so
what would happen to him if he stayed for a whole month?
That is a worry.