物語となった記憶


 考古学者になりたかった下道少年は、カメラをもったアーティストになった。だが、感心を寄せる対象は少年時代とそれほど変わっていないとみえる。下道基行は、特有の歴史や記憶が有形無形に遺る場を訪れ、その場や物がたずさえる人々の記憶を取材し、写真に納め、ときにそれについて書くことを作品としている。題材は社会的なものから個人的なものまでと幅があるが、自分の足で歩き自らの五感で確認し、その場や物に留まる記憶に直にコンタクトする実地調査の手法は共通している。
 国内に遺る戦争遺跡や旧占領地に建てられた鳥居を追跡調査してつくった他の作品に比べると、私的な性質が際立つ本作《日曜画家/Sunday Painter》は、日曜画家だった祖父の遺した油彩を下道本人が訪ねつくった、写真とお手製の本からなるシリーズ作品だ。
 だが、不思議なことに、これらの写真は祖父の遺した絵を主題としながらも、必ずしもその肝心の絵に焦点があわされていない。絵はときに構図の中心から外され、ピントがあっていないものさえある。撮影者の視点は、祖父の絵というよりむしろ、絵の持ち主である人や、その人の営みがうかがえる部屋へ向けられている。下道が写真を通して本作でとらえているのは、つまり、絵そのものではなく、その周辺にあるものであり人であるといえる。
 一方、写真と対につくられた本は、下道が絵のもらい手たちから聴取した、祖父にまつわるさまざまな記憶に焦点をあてている。下道は、語られた記憶を話し手の口調やなまりをそのままに残し、口語体で文章化した。語り口調がいかされた文章の書き方は、取材した素材に忠実な記述であるという印象を読み手に与える。だが、私たちが目にするのは、語られた言葉のなかから下道が取捨選択したものにほかならない。記憶は編集されるとしばしば言われるように、事実のある部分は無意識的に誇張され、また別の部分は忘却される。本作で絵の持ち主が語った記憶もその例外ではないだろう。言い換えれば、この本は、「記憶」という名のもとに語られた脚色された事実を、下道がさらに編集して仕上げた、一種の「物語」なのである。
 人の主観によって知らず知らずのうちに変容する歴史や記憶。下道の視点の先にあるのは、有形の遺跡や遺品そのものではなく、潜在意識下で変形し、もとの形を失ってぼんやりとしている記憶ではないだろうか。下道が本作を通して行ったことのひとつは、過去から現在へと至る間にズレや歪みをうみ「かたち」の定まらなくなった記憶に改めて「かたち」を与えること、そして個々人のなかにかすかに残る逸話を引き出し、物語へと整えたことである。
 祖父の絵を追うという自ら定めたルールにそって、下道が人びとを訪ね、彼/彼女らの記憶を収集し編集した《日曜画家/Sunday Painter》は、「かたち」を与えられた記憶を通じて、どこか懐かしい身近な物語を見る者に伝える。すると、似たような想い出が鑑賞者の内奥からも呼び出され、それに付随する逸話が浮かび上がってきはしないだろうか。もしそうだとすれば、自らの「記憶」という名の「物語」に耳を傾けてみるのも一興だ。


竹久侑(水戸芸術館現代美術センター学芸員)


"Memories transformed into stories"

Shitamichi Motoyuki, who wanted to become an archeologist when he was young, has now become a camera-toting artist. The things that captured his interest as a boy, however, seem not to have changed much. Shitamichi visits places where trace of specific histories and memories remain, in forms that are both tangible and intangible. He interviews the people associated with a particular place or object, collecting information about their memories and recording the results of his research in the form of photographs, occasionally presenting his own thoughts and musings on these topics as part of his work. the subject of his research ranges from social themes to individual anecdotes, but what all of Shitamichi's work shares in common is its field study approach: first-hand investigations that consist in verifying facts using his own senses, and making direct contact with the memories that lie embedded in places and objects.
 Compared with other works that emerged as a result of follow-up investigations of war ruins in Japan and torii gates (typically found at the entrance to Shinto shrines) in Japan's former territories, "Sunday Painter" has a conspicuously personal tone to it. Comprising several photos and a handmade book, this series was created after several visits spent tracking down some oil painting left behind by his grandfather, an amateur artist.
Curiously enough, however, although the subjects of these photos are the works left behind by his grandfather, their focus is not always on the paintings. In some of photos, the paintings are removed from the center of the composition, and others are even somewhat unfocused. The photographer's gaze appears to be trained not so much on paintings, but rather on their current owners and the rooms that reveal something about their lives. In other words, what Shitamichi captures in this work through his photographs is the things and people that surround these paitings.
The book that accompanies the photographs, on the other hand, focuses on the rich variety of memories related to Shitamichi's grandfather that were told to him by the recipients of the paintings. Transcribed into stories written in a colloquial style, the recounted memories retain the accent, tone of voice and expressions unique to each person. Shitamichi's style of writing, which makes use of the distinctive voice of each speaker, gives the reader the impression that this is a faithful rendering of the material that was collected during his research. What we see, however, is nothing but a selective part of what was actually recounted to the artist. Just as memory is often said to be edited, elements with any truth to them become unconsciously exaggerated, while other parts are completely forgotten about. The memories recounted by the owners of the paintings in the work, as it turns out, are no exception. To put it another way, this book is a kind of "story" based on dramatized truths, recounted in the form in the form of "memories" that Shitaimichi father edited and polished.
History and memory are often transformed by human subjectivity without us ever being aware of it. Shitamichi's gaze is trained not on the tangible remnants or concrete traces left behind by history, but rather the things that undergo a metamorphosis, losing the contours of their from and becoming only a vague recollection in our subconscious. One of the things that he has done through this work is to restore a semblance of from to memories that have been shifted or distorted in the interval between the past and the present and become misshapen, so to speak. In so doing, Shitamichi teases out anecdotes whose faint traces still remain in the minds of these individuals, and reworks them into stories.
For "Sunday Painter," Shitamichi set himself the task of tracking down his grandfather's painting. by paying visits to the owners of the paintings to collect their memories, he transformed them into his own work through the act of editing. These recollections, which have recovered some sort of "shape" thanks to Shitamichi, recount to the viewer stories that are somehow nostalgic and familiar. Similar memories are evoked in the deepest recesses of the viewer's mind-and along with them, perhaps the anecdotes attached to those memories will also start to rise to the surface. If they do, perhaps the viewer will find his/her own joy in listening to the stories that their own so-called memories have been transformed into.

Yuu Takehisa (curetor, Contemporary Art Center, Art Tower Mito)