feel feel BONSAI (2016 Setouchi Triennale)

“feel feel BONSAI” doesn’t feel like art as much as a bonsai exhibit.  To say bonsai is not art is a bit of a misnomer as it requires a lot of time, patience, and artistry to create the perfect mini tree.  This work was created by Masahi Hirao in collaboration with SETOUCHI COGEIZ with Kagawa Prefecture Bonsai Products Promotion Council also contributing to the artwork.  The artwork can feel a little commercial compared to the other artworks for several reasons.  One of the reasons is that they were working with Hoshinchu Air Bonsai, a for-profit start-up company that was promoting one of their major products that was on display.  SETOUCHI COGEIZ is also a company responsible for designing products with a Setouchi flavour and allowing young designers from the region to become known.  Thankfully the commercial feeling is not very strong and the bonsai still dominate the exhibit.

feel feel BONSAI (Entrance)

feel feel Bonsai

When I reached the entrance of feel feel BONSAI, I saw one of the workers tending to the bonsai.  It takes a lot of work to make sure they are well tended to and not overheated, especially in Japan’s summers.  There were a LOT of bonsai in the house and there was a guide to what each bonsai was.  There were a lot of varieties during the summer edition and while I was happy to see this variety, it did change for each season.  I was overwhelmed by the variety of bonsai in the main room and wanted to spend a lot of time there but I didn’t have the opportunity to do so.

feel feel BONSAI

feel feel BONSAI

The centerpiece of the main room was the floating bonsai.  This is where Hoshinchu Air Bonsai really helps.  Their main product is a special floating bonsai.  From what I can tell, it is just a simple mini bonsai in a rock that is elevated by magnets.  It is then rotated a little at the same time.  It was amazing to watch and it was positioned very well within the artwork to make me feel awe inspired.

Hoshinchu Air Bonsai

Hoshinchu Air Bonsai

While the main room and the outside yard are probably the best places to see bonsai, the back rooms were also very interesting.  The first room I came upon was behind a small curtain.  When you enter, you see a bonsai in a dark room with a projection behind it.  It was very beautiful and since I was overheated, I was very thankful for the air conditioning.  As the video changes, so did the feeling I had about the bonsai.  I was always amazed at how beautiful it was but the mystery of the imagery changed with the video.  It is something that photos cannot really convey and being there in person is necessary.

feel feel BONSAI

feel feel BONSAI

The last room before you leave was something that I almost missed.  It is a small bathroom and when I looked in I didn’t think it was part of the art but it was.  The pile of dirt and moss was interesting but since I was preoccupied with other things, I didn’t appreciate it enough.  I heard that it had grown since the spring session, and from what I have seen in photos, it has.  “feel feel Bonsai” was a wonderful exhibit and I wish I could go back again.  Unfortunately it has been dismantled and may not return in 2019.

feel feel BONSAI (Back Room)

Not every artwork was bonsai.

feel feel BONSAI

feel feel BONSAI

feel feel BONSAI

feel feel BONSAI

feel feel BONSAI

feel feel BONSAI

feel feel BONSAI

feel feel BONSAI

feel feel BONSAI

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David Billa of Setouchi Explorer was lucky enough to attend a special demonstration of Masashi Hirao and Seppuku Pistols.  The Seppuku Pistols played a concert while Masashi Hirao created a bonsai sculpture.  He goes into great detail of the event that happened in summer as well as posting a few great videos.  Be sure to check out his post below.  Also, check out the professional video below created by Masashi Hirao for the event as well!

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