Under the box

Hiraki Sawa
Press release

Maisterravalbuena is pleased to present “Under The Box”, the third solo exhibition of Hiraki Sawa in Madrid.

On this occasion, Sawa presents two videos and a sample of drawings where he keeps exploring the diverse forms of perceiving reality and how memories are capable of generating fictions.

“Envelope” consists of a video set made up of a vertical projection on a large screen and three mirrors placed on the different walls of the room in a way that the image projection is multiplied. Behind each mirror there is a loudspeaker playing the sound of the video, thus granting the sound a certain corporeal quality. This effect is increased by showing the title of the video right to left along with the original image, as if we were looking at a reflection, and we shall be able to properly read the title of the video only with the help of the mirrors in the room.

The idea of splitting, always present in all of Sawa’s work, gains a physical presence through the repetition of a reflection in a real space.

The video presents scenes of great oneiric power where animation and real images are combined. Apart from recalling a seductive nostalgia, these images tell us about different forms of inhabiting, about the limits of our own existence and the permeability between the public and private sectors. The fragmented narration unravels as the character interact with the objects, that act here as symbols: a broken mug, an oil lamp, a book with blank leaves… the different timings overlap along the different actions, thus contradicting the idea of cause and effect.

In addition to “Envelope”, Sawa presents “Ethereal”, a video with two framed channels. This piece is the first work of a broader project, being its main theme the exhibition of pictures of spirits from the beginning of the 20th Century. Sawa did his research for this project in the

Senate House of London, using different materials about the presence of ghostly forms in photographs and the controversy about their authenticity. In “Ethereal”, the right channel shows a plaster hand tapping on a surface. This hand is a replica of the Victorian “rapping hand”. It was used in the séances as a means to communicate with spirits: one tap on the table meant “yes”, two meant “no”, and three meant “I don’t know”. The left channel shows a candle in front of a mirror and behind a steam curtain, bringing to mind the strange forms that appear in this type of pictures.

Next to “Ethereal” we can find a small drawing of a balancing wooden stick. The drawing makes a direct reference to the story “The man who turned into a stick” by Kobo Abe. It is the story of a person who commits suicide after losing his job, turning into a useless wooden stick when he falls to the ground.

Hiraki Sawa (Japan, 1977) graduated in the Slade School of Arts of London. His work has been exhibited in the Lyon Biennale, 2013; Sydney Biennale, 2010; Yokohama Triennial, 2005; and Liverpool Biennale, 2002. Sawa has set up solo exhibitions in the Chisenhale Gallery, London; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; Hirshhorn Museum, Washington; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; CAB, Burgos; Saint Louis Art Museum.

Ethereal, 2014.2-channel HD video diptych with custom built monitors. Edition of 8. Still
Envelope, 2014. Single channel video with sound and mirror. Still
Envelope, 2014. Single channel video with sound and mirror. Still
Envelope, 2014. Single channel video with sound and mirror. Still