On the Collinear and Reflected on the Water

Rei Hayama

During the pandemic, I was very lucky to live in a small house surrounded by trees and the ocean on an islet in Hong Kong, which helped tremendously to ease the fear of eschatology in the time of quarantine and lockdown. The soothing power of nature is unquestionable, it humbles you when realizing all of your surroundings are larger than life itself. In these moments, I believe art can transmit such energy and help us understand more non-human centered intelligence than ever. When I came across Rei Hayama’s artwork a few years ago, I was immediately struck by her sensitivity to images and her relationship with nature. In On the Collinear and Reflected on the Water, one enters a hypnotic journey while listening to the protagonist recount a strangely intimate encounter with an emu against the backdrop of projected and re-photographed film footage showing the bird behind bars at the zoo. As Hayama filmed the emu, she noticed a tear dropping from the corner of its eye, suggesting a complex reflection and miniaturization of our inner and outer world—it evokes the selfishness of human behavior, the cruelty of disaster, and more. This magical moment captures and enlarges, frame by frame, the sense of deep anxiety and guilt that emerges from staring at the emu, or visa-versa. It is as if the more you look at the bird, the more embarrassed you feel. During a pandemic and amidst ever accelerating contemporary tragedies, we wish for a sight of grief for relief, even if it’s as fleeting as a teardrop.

Rei Hayama is a Japanese artistwho works mainly with moving images. After many thoughtful and practical experiences amongst wildlife in the unique environment of her youth, she studied at the Department of Moving Images and Performing Arts, Tama Art University and has been making filmssince 2008. Hayama’s films revolve around nature and all other living things that have been lost or neglected from an anthropocentric point of view. Through film and video works with sound, poetic writings and symbolic imageries, Hayama gently seeks the harmonious connection between nature and human beings, bringing forward the invisible layers of our natural reality into the human imagination. The philosophy of Hayama’s work is deeply engaged with cinema and interprets the cinema space as an artificial nature. She describes her work as “A Humble Cinema” and explores multiple dreams after the dream of humans.

Freya Chou is a curator and editor based in Hong Kong and Taipei. She was a curator of Para Site, Hong Kong from 2015 to 2019. Prior to that, she was Co-curator of the 10th Shanghai Biennial (with Anselm Franke, Cosmin Costinas, and Liu Xiao, 2014), Assistant Curator of the 7th Taipei Biennial (co-curated by Hongjohn Lin and Tirdad Zolghadr, 2010), and Curatorial Assistant of the 6th Taipei Biennial (co-curated by Manray Hsu and Vasif Kortun, 2008). She has edited and contributed writing to many artist books, magazines, and catalogues.

Notes for Tomorrow is a traveling exhibition organized and produced by Independent Curators International (ICI) and initiated by Frances Wu Giarratano, Jordan Jones, Becky Nahom, Renaud Proch, and Monica Terrero. The exhibition was made possible with the generous support of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, VIA Art Fund and ICI’s Board of Trustees and International Forum.

We are on Treaty 1 Territory. Plug In ICA is located on the territories of the Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene peoples, and the homeland of the Métis Nation. Our water is sourced from Shoal Lake 40 First Nation.

Plug In ICA extends our heartfelt gratitude to our generous donors, valued members, and dedicated volunteers. We acknowledge the sustaining support of our Director’s Circle. You all make a difference.

We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Canada Council, the Manitoba Arts Council and Winnipeg Arts Council. We could not operate without their continued financial investment and lobbying efforts.

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