In the early winter of 2012, the artist Koki Tanaka and the curator and writer Hu Fang began a journey to explore the concept ichi-go ichi-e (literally “one time, one meeting”) through the medium of pottery. Building upon the Japanese philosopher Yanagi Sōetsu’s folk art movement mingei, the journey was intended to test and create human relationships through the collective production of single pieces of pottery. Tanaka explains: “Because they concentrate to build one piece of pottery using all their hands, participants need to forget themselves and just focus on making. Documentation of the process would mean capturing it as if it were an action without anybody—silent concentrative action.”
Tanaka and Hu will invite a rethinking of conceptual approaches in art practice today by discussing the creation of Tanaka’s work a pottery produced by 5 potters at once (silent attempt) (2013), currently on view at the Japanese Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale. In this context, the temporality and collaborative nature of ichi-go, ichi-e raises questions related to communication, process, and perception.
In the wake of the turbulence and loss brought about by Asia’s modernization, Hu asks, “What kind of possibility can the making of pottery—one of humanity’s oldest survival techniques—give us today? How can it help us to reconnect to the world? If art practices and survival techniques are supposed to be inseparable, how can we rediscover such a union? Through what methods and trials?”
The program is curated by Heidi Rabben and Xiaoyu Weng.