.:: Leiko Ikemura: Transfiguration ::.

August 27, 2011

On the last day of our Tohoku trip, a slight change of plans lead me and Dawna back to Tokyo a day earlier than planned. So while Dawna headed back to the land of mikans, I loitered around in Tokyo. On a whim, I decided to take Dawna’s suggestion and go to an art museum in Tokyo (rather than another trip to the manga store Mandarake where I would inevitably spend more money and buy yet more doujinshi). Thus I found myself in the Tokyo National Museum of Modern Art where there was a special exhibit called “Transfiguration” on an award winning sculptor and painter  Leiko Ikemura.  I am not an art buff, and at best I mostly found Leiko’s artworks highly disturbing (like the hollow sculpture of the beheaded girl with a pigeon sitting on her neck).  So it was not surprising that as an  English Literature major I was immediately drawn to the poetry littering the walls of the exhibits instead. I believe Leiko herself wrote them in Japanese and was later translated into English (by herself or another I don’t know).  Here are some of the discombobulating verses I found.

Post research: Though she currently lives in Berlin, Leiko Ikemura hails from Mie Prefecture. That makes her poems, particularly the “Figure-scape” poem all the more chilling.  In response to the the triple disaster, she curated a exhibit in Berlin called, “Breaking News: Fukushima and the Consequences.”

(1) Evolution

looking at the moving clouds I become a cloud.
we may come to know the secrecy of existence after loss of language.
but dreams are continuous from the old time and life dose not cease to exist.
that ancient world breaks cultures ad makes a sound like a huge drum.
beginning from the nothingness the water wells up, the sea is born, a ceaseless surge of waves.
night is a journey to the other world, report to the dead mother about this life, though she scolds.
the sea of blood rattles, the water core of the body melts, ears grow from the heart.
you appear from the violent hole. you are laughing silent, but i hear.
soon the houses are chasing you, turning round and round. a huge ship is falling from the sky.
combing hair, listening to the voice of death.
crouching over the wounded earth and watching the sky, many frogs fly under the beautiful stars.
lets meet today and tomorrow, the day after tomorrow too, ’cause we never know.
from the small sudden opening, i scratch the sky, beat the ground, sip the riverwater.
by the way, i am Bird.
eat the dreams every night, then go for a journey to pick up the soul and put colour in it, to wake the gods.
upon waking, there is nothing.


(2) Alpen Indianer

in the bosom of mountains
eyes close
a myriad of twinkling stars
swallows up all in its brightness

a storm had passed
many trees fell down
wrath turned into fury
knocking down everything

as the southern light rises
above the mountain range
a flood of melted ice gushes down
like blood sprouting from the heart

spring came
he left the moutnain


(3) Figure-scape

the sea with the quiet movement of the waves
as if nothing happened
but it remembers everything
mirroring the transforming clouds
hugging the huge sky
coming nearer to us and leaving

i knew it
one day the sea will get furious
the sky will get mad
the mountains will start to move

all is in transition
awakening from the dream
there is neither mother nor father

i have something to believe in
this is why i bring you my works
dedicated with heart

Posted in: Poetry, Travel

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