Depicting Our Imaginary Landscapes
‘Pen-tomo’ (pen friend) means someone with whom you regularly exchange letters. Pen friends sometimes build up trust through correspondence and experience close intimacy even if they have never met. When writing a letter, we think about the recipient as we express our thoughts. The words thus chosen resemble a narrative told in everyday language.
The Pen-tomo Project was started in the hope of finding immigrants living in Koganei and other areas around Tokyo. Through their letters I hear their stories and ask them to share their memories of landscapes which they have known. First, I prepared a theme, ‘grandmother’s life: clothing, food and housing’ for our correspondence.
I have created artwork related to the memories of my grandmother who migrated from Jeju Island to Osaka. This experience made me realize that the concept of ‘grandmother’would allow us to access a more vivid imagination of the past, which also leads to the possibility of opening up our imagination to others.
Memory is not static, it constantly transforms itself within the passing flow of time and presents itself as a dynamic relation. […] Remembering is a process of confirming one’s deep relationship to the world and eventually leads us to the core of creation. (Toshiharu Ito*)
The letter becomes a medium for conveying the voices of immigrants in Japan who with their diverse backgrounds have experienced many transformations in their daily lives. The ‘true’ scenery imagined through their memories, the sceneries their letters make us see, will help us unravel the mentally-constructed past and draw our own imaginary landscapes.
*Machi wa Kioku de dekiteiru[The City is Comprisd of memories: An Art Project that Creates New Memory], Osaka, Breaker Project 2011-2013, 2014, p.30
Border Crossings: Discovering What Lies Beyond Borders + The Pen-tomo Project – Depicting Our Imaginary Landscapes
Production: Artfull-action, Non-profit organization
Published: June 20 2020
Publisher: Arts Council Tokyo, Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture