Arte & CRITICA 67  



MS: You lived for many years in China and Japan, and above all between 2004 and 2010 you documented the complex landscape of Tokyo, since you were living in Magome in suburbia area. What does this series of photographs, somewhere between classic and modern, inspired by Murakami's book represent for you.

AR: These I'm saying to you are the first words that transform the years of my japans experience into memory, the photographs into a stratification of symbols and meanings with a before and an after. The essence of my work in Japan, especially in Tokyo focuses into a interconnections of two phenomena: on one hand, the search for a formal sign in the quick flowing of contemporary gestures, on the other for an ancient elegance in the caos of the city. I mean I have looked at the macrocosm that each megalopolis offers us in order to find in the gestural characters, in the suspension of time, the elegance that japanese culture expressed marvelously in the past.

MS: In your photo you often refer more to the great Japanese tradition of gestural painting rather than to photography. Can you expand on this tendency ?

AR: The paintings from the period of Ukyio-e, or pictures of the floating world, have been an important area in my research. This painting is the expression of the thriving period between 1600 and 1800 when Edo, the modern Tokyo, became the capital of the empire and a new middle class of rich dealers extolled the pleasure of that moment, of the life of the senses. That period saw important authors who dedicated all their production to "the gesture that becomes enchantment". I'm thinking above all of Hokusai and Hiroshige. The gesture that become enchantment has been the thematic line of my project for "South of the Border, West of the Sun" from the homonymus novel by Haruki Murakami; and this comes to the other cardinal point, the dream-like dimension in whichTokyo lives and pulsates even if in its highly material essence. Tokyo is, or probably has been until today, the only other world within our known world. A mental place where the same physical perimeters of the city seem to be shaped in order to become the stage of the stories unfolding there. 

MS: The recent earthquake on March the 15th brought Japan and its people to its knees, a people for whom I feel curiosity and admiration for their ability to be always kind, polite and dignified. How has the perception of this country changed and what, in your opinion, did this calamity provoke in them? 

AR: I look at my project again with a deeply nostalgia for that Tokyo that was so proudly the land of the elsewhere, not yet "contaminated" by this tragedy, neither at a real or symbolical level. I think that after this event the images of "South of the Border, West of the Sun" are gaining a further layer of meaning. A conversation with the present that art maintains alive in the diverse dimensions, physical and temporal, even if revealing itself in the closed and determinate appearance of the material object. What appears as created in a given time continues, is an imperceptible variation, to sho its influence and inter-connection with reality, deconstructing the levels of the sense that each time we believe to be established. I think that these photographs we are looking together could represent the last image of a city in which the permanent sense of the elsewhere nurtures the poetry of the gesture, the possibility of an aesthetically and formal construction within a bubble that is fragile and fascinating because it is psychological. A bubble that the earthquake, coming from outside the walls, broke as a spell is broken.