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Transcript: Tanaami Keiichi interview

Tanaami Keiichi: A World of Collages

(Original language: Japanese)

TANAAMI KEIICHI: The reason I liked collages in the past is that I could gather different materials, place them down, and then reconstruct them. They formed a collage that then formed an entire world.

My memories of the past are more important than the future. The memories of my early childhood are stronger than more recent memories. Around the time of the air raids [of World War II], my grandfather was breeding goldfish as a hobby, right in front of my house. He used a water tank as big as a tatami mat. We dug our air raid shelter right in front of the water tank. When we were in the shelter the water tank was right in front of our eyes. The American planes dropped flare bombs. The goldfish tank looked stunning in that moment as it reflected the light. The scales on the fish would sparkle. Combined with the horror of the war, that scene left a strong impression on me.

These collages were made during the 1960s and early 1970s. My fanatical uncle is closely connected to the collage materials. He used to collect the magazine covers and postcards used in these artworks exhibited here. They were organised tidily based on themes like historical backgrounds, war, beautiful people, and so on. The colour also doesn’t fade from these old things. I made clippings of them and used them in my work.

I recently published a book, a collection of my dream diaries written over the last forty years. Instead of just writing a dream diary, I mix dreams and memories to connect them to my art. Dreams and memories are two sides of the same coin. I used to focus only on memories, but I started adding images of dreams.

I was drawn to art because I wanted to complete everything from start to finish. I wanted my work to be something I can devote my life to.

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