Circulation AND Compost Suburb
Ayako Aramaki grew up in a suburban environment, yet she longs for the simplistic attraction of wilderness and countryside. In suburbia, she wonders where her roots are. She admires the centuries-old processes that farmers have used to cultivate and preserve the land. The agricultural cycle of growth, death, compost, and renewal has a special fascination for her. As a way of merging these two disparate worlds, she has produced two inter-related projects at the University of North Carolina – Charlotte.
Aramaki asked the university to leave large grassy portions of their campus un-mowed for many months so that she would have tall grass and weeds to work with for her projects when she arrived in early September. Her first work, Circulation, was created using steel plates cut into the shape of the Chinese ideogram for “circulation” or “recycle,” to be laid on the ground. This symbol dates back to ancient Buddhist philosophy, and is indicative of the equality among all things. The artist then created a giant heap of dried grass on top of this ideogram and, like an artist/shaman; she set it on fire at a public event. The resulting bonfire consumed the dried grass and left behind a kind of tattoo on the landscape in the form of this Chinese ideogram. From the charred earth, the first thing to grow back was grass on the area covered by the steel plates, thus emphasizing the circulation metaphor.
For Compost Subdivision, the artist has created house-like structures using dried grass. These houses are spread around the campus, and are occasionally clustered on a cul-de-sac, as in suburbia. The forms that dot the freshly cleared landscape question the concept of development and our insistence on interfering with the natural order. While on the campus, Aramaki could be seen wearing a bright red jumpsuit with a traditional women farmer’s hat, and was frequently slinging a string trimmer against the waist-high grasses. She wore this bright suit in order to attract attention to her concept of working the land. The fact that she looked a bit like an alien was an intentional device to make the point about our relentless pursuit of the control of nature. For Aramaki, it is not enough to accept suburban sprawl as a natural consequence of the growth of cities. Her art is a poetic intervention into the cycle of land use, while paying homage to humble farmers and their wisdom of working with nature.
Born in Suita City, Osaka, Japan in 1973, Ayako Aramaki received her M.F.A. in Sculpture from Kyoto City University of Arts in 2000. Since that time, she has worked on numerous exhibitions and projects in Japan. Exhibitions include: the Third Gallery Aya, Osaka; Osaka Contemporary Art Center; and O Gallery Eyes, Osaka. She has constructed Compost Houses in Osaka, Shiga, and Hyogo. She currently lives and works in Shiga, Japan.
The Third Gallery Aya in Osaka represents her work.