The Tokyo metropolitan art museum invited me to make an installation about Japanese Bento eating culture. I felt honoured they asked me. I was wondering how can I show Japanese people something they do not already know about bento? I feel intrigued by animism, the belief that everything, also lifeless objects or computers, has a soul. This is also rooted in Japanese culture. I think, when you believe everything has a soul or a spirit, you will handle the things around you with more care. I am not sure if this counts for contemporary Japanese culture, looking at the current state of food- and plastic waste. But exactly this friction could be a base for my project.
the gallery space at the museum is huge and approached from the top. Immediately I imagined it as an enormous bento box which could be entered by humans as if they are tiny and go into the box. (We always say to think outside the box but I doubt that.)
Eventually I made an installation about the intangible parts of bento. The things you cannot see or feel but are certainly there, like memories, the effects something has on our environment, the future, microbes, human connection etc.
Visitors are invited to come down and enter the bento box. Inside the box they find a soul: The spirit of Bento. The spirit of Bento is a tiny character that has been living inside bento boxes for ages- since the first bento boxes were made. He talkes to the visitors trough a ‘spirit-phone’ and guides them trough the installation. The installation is made of segments covered with thousands of ribbons. visitors walk trough the ribbons and discover places and objects and stories inside. The whole installation functions like a maze. Visitors feel the sensation of the ribbons touching their skins and hear the spirit talk to them about the intangible part of bento trough various objects. Visitors can leave their memories behind in a monument for memories of bento’s that have long been eaten. They can leave a sticker, a trace of microbes behind and connect physically trough the Spirit of bento symbolically visualising the human connection of all the unknown people that have grown, harvested, packed and prepared your food.
for this exhibition, custom made scents have been made by IFF, Bernardo Fleming.
Inside the installation are on display:
– Algae Vases by Studio Klarenbeek & Dros and Atelier Luma (Luma Arles).
– Tempeh bowls by Mediamatic
– Body culture by Philipp Kolmann
My own work
– Plant bones for bento
– Monuments for fish (porcelain) (tiny sculptures to fill your bento and replace the fish that will be gone in the future)
– Sculptures of the Spirit of Bento made of porcelain. The spirit inside the box, the plastic waste spirit and greenware spirits emitting scent.
Curator, exhibition, Experience, Installation