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Artist Statement

Noriko Ambe

[Statement 2013]

Time is essential to my work. I add more paper to a sculpture over time, and as a result the work itself ends up embodying the time taken to create it. The process is as important as the finished product.

After becoming aware of the idea of an “empty self” I started a series of works using paper in 1999 entitled “Linear-Actions Projects by Drawing and Cutting.” The work looks like the annual rings of a tree, a topographical map, or a wave, but it isn’t. It is absolutely the traces of the actions of a person -- me.

I have been mapping the mysterious land between physical and emotional geography. Even though the actions are simple, I do not try to draw or cut mechanical or perfect lines in my work, for subtle natural distortions convey the nuances of human emotions, habits, and biorhythms. For this reason, I take care to make all my work by hand.

When I am drawing or cutting lines I am interested in observing the power of the changing and growing shape. This dynamic shape itself becomes an entity -- another geography. For me lines with devided positive and negative shapes are the ability to reproduce the order of the universe; they are an important motif in that they serve to connect to the whole spectrum of things. There is a part of me that is an individual and a part of me that is simply one human being in the natural world, but these lines connect us as we are with the surrounding natural world.

The“Book Cuttings”series is like a collaboration for me. I am expressing a new concept by cutting and altering the pre-existing patterns and information in books. The relationship between linear action and the material is like the relationship between human beings and their restricted environment, a connection that is interesting for me too. Also,“キル(kiru)-Artist Books” I sculpt by cutting out portions of the monographs of other artists -- carving forms that are motivated by my respect for their work. Acting as a filter I try to understand their concepts, find points of intersection or conflict, and then collaborate with them. I am considering "what is art?" through artists (others).

For the new type of Yupo paper sculpture project, using metal cabinets with drawers, called“Flat file globe" series has started since the last solo show 2006. The work is a metaphor of human body and also the cross section of consecutive time stream and present. The relationship between the vertical hole, the human body and each drawer is synchronized as a metaphor where the current flow crosses the current time.That is collaborating with minimal industrial materials and my organic cutting lines. I also came to use negative forms deriving from cutouts. I entitle them "Sculpaper." The works multiply day by day.

From 2012, I started “Inner Water”, which is a site specific installation that includes several layered paper cutouts and a large scale video installation. This work reflects on the tragic earthquake and related events in Japan in 2011, and the relationship between humans and the powerful forces of nature. As human beings we can't breathe in the sea -- we will die. It overwhelms us, as though our bodies are“against”the sea and nature. At the same time, by using our imagination we can also synchronize with the sea when we try to listen to it inside our bodies, to awaken unconscious memories. Through cycles of being overcome by and connected to the sea in my mind, I reconnect to nature from a new standpoint.

To express "The Fold of Waves", these repeating cycles and layered time, a slideshow of over 660 images (chosen from over 2,500 ones) of the sea are projected on a large scale site-specific multi-layer screen. The time that is imaged in the present, the past, and the individual intersects every moment in the installation. What do we see? I am aming to follow the things of possibilities to express at the present situation through the art from now on, too.

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