Before working as a visual artist, Suchan Kinoshita studied at the Musik- und Theaterhochschule in Cologne. Traces of this past can be found in her work.
In many ways, Kinoshita’s installations and objects create ‘situations’ in which the viewer is apportioned an active role. She sets the conditions that determine the situation. The ﬁnal result is unpredictable. Kinoshita exposes processes and changes.
At the start of the 1990s, she dedicated a lot of time to ﬁnding the best way to document her installations. It was during this time that the idea arose to create a work of art consisting of documentation. This documentation would not only serve as a means to represent the work, but evolved into a work of art in its own right. Underlying this project was the stage setting Kinoshita designed for the play ‘That Time’ by Samuel Becket. The play follows a man who attempts to escape modern life and its emptiness by constantly living in the past. Beckett himself offered some stage direction. The head of an elderly man seems to ﬂoat above the stage. Three voices speak to him: from the left, from the right and from above. The voices alternate in a certain pattern. They turn out to be his own voices, representing various phases of his life on a constant search for ‘that time’. The voices appear to comfort him. After a number of rounds there is an intermezzo without text. Slowly the head opens its eyes and we can hear its breathing. When the eyes close, the merry-go-round of stories starts anew, but in another order. The stories slowly come together, revealing the cause of his miserable state, his fear of the present, the emptiness. Kinoshita’s setting consists of a circle of 17 wooden ladders. In the centre of the ring is a fabric funnel above
a ring. The man’s head can be seen under the ring. The audience of no more than 17 mounts the ladders and looks downward to see the man’s head in the funnel. This resolute design caused Kinoshita to wonder whether it could be removed from the context of the play and serve as an independent object. “It had a certain functionality as an object. It created a different perspective, leading to something that cannot be articulated in stage direction. I also thought it created a striking image. Its appeal is rooted in the fact that you were invited to take on a new perspective.” She decided to install the work in a variety of locations to see how the various environments inﬂuenced the object.
Over the course of single day, 23 May 1990, the installation was assembled and disassembled at 17 different locations in Maastricht. Kinoshita started the day at 5
a.m. with a full lorry and a team of staff to help her set up and take down the installation and two photographers to document the process. The photographers’ styles were highly divergent. One was adept in documenting the results with beautiful panoramic photos. The other recorded the process with snapshots taken in rapid succession. These two completely different approaches to documenting the process proved to be highly complementary. Although a number of locations were predetermined, others were identiﬁed during the journey through the city. At 8 p.m., after a gruelling day of work, the job was ﬁnished. The only tangible reminders of this Sisyphean challenge were the photos.
Selecting the right way to present the photos was no easy feat. “Although I think people would have preferred a small book to curl up with in a corner, I opted to make an unwieldy object. I wanted the results to become an object of its own, so that it would be difﬁcult to grasp in its entirety. That’s why I opted for the leporellofolded format. Although it has a beginning, you never get the feeling that you are on a journey from A to Z.” The photos were printed on lime paper and glued onto a wooden book. It was a difﬁcult and time-consuming process. “The book is made of the same wood as the ladders. The woodgrain is visible through the photos. Together with bookbinder Arno Lips, I did everything possible to achieve that level of transparency. It
required an inordinate amount of work. The printing went along ﬁne, but gluing the photos... that had to be done using an incredibly heavy roller. It took us at least a few months to complete.”
In her work ‘Eintagebuch’, which in essence is a work that documents another work of art, Kinoshita plays with the concepts of object, presentation, context and documentation. Each presentation creates other connections, each context lends the object a different signiﬁcance, each documentation is an interpretation that changes the object. “I don’t think that ‘Eintagebuch’ documents the object. It’s clearly something other than a representation. I think that was already clear when it was being made. It plays with the impossibility of documentation more than it strives to ﬁnd the solution.”
‘Eintagebuch’ addresses not only art and documentation, but is also about art and theatre. Both involve interpretation, reinterpretation, movement, re-creation and documentation. However, there are also the memories and the attempt to breathe new life into the past. The title of the work refers to more than a diary as an autobiographical report, but also to the moment in time – the one day – during which this project or this performance was done. In 1994, Kinoshita created a light installation involving the words ‘Now’ and ‘Here’, which together make the word ‘Nowhere’, and, consequently, underscore the ﬂeetingness of time and place. You try to remain in the here and now, but it disappears as quickly as you can become aware of it. Is this the paradox Kinoshita ﬁnds so attractive in Beckett’s work?
The quotes by Kinoshita were taken from an interview conducted by Johan Deumens in March 2004.