2/28/2011

Difficulty to Convert Beauty to Art: Attending the production by Laurie Simmons

The exhibition “The Love Doll: Days 1-30” of Laurie Simmons, a New York-based artist and photographer, who is active and famous internationally, is held at the Salon 94 Bowery Gallery in New York. Among this exhibition, her short film “Geisha Song” is screened as a special production named as “The Love Doll: Day 31”.

On this short film “Geisha Song”, the love doll (the full-length silicone doll) is dressed fully in geisha style. As a kimono stylist, I took charge of coordinating to make up a geisha and making it dress up in geisha style. I'm honored to have the credit for this film as “Costume”.

When I was asked to work with by Laurie Simmons, she wanted me to make up a geisha on the doll. Since kimono style is sometimes called as “geisha” in NY, I was wondering whether she needed a normal kimono style, or needed to reproduce a full geisha style, on the doll. I would like to think a great deal of Laurie’s image. I frankly asked her and knew that she had imagined a real geisha (maiko or geiko) style in Kyoto.
She took much care of the white-plastered face (shiro-nuri) and ornamental hairpins (kanzashi) on the doll. On the day of the film shooting, I brought the professional Japanese makeup set used for the Japanese traditional dance and asked a makeup artist, to use it and to make the white-plastered face. I also brought ornamental hairpins made of fine Japanese silk (habutae) by Kintakedo in Gion, Kyoto.

I selected a special kimono, which is dyed in deep red and black, and where the auspicious omens motifs including paired cranes holding pine branches on their mouths are gorgeously embroidered with gold threads. Gilt pine needles spread on the whole fabrics like its woven pattern.
I visited the gallery to watch the film. The short film “Geisha Song” is screened on the big screen in front of the gallery along with the lyric song. I was surprised and impressed by the artistically completed work. My husband accompanying me said “I’m disappointed because we cannot see kimono on the film very well.” But I thought that it was much better inversely. This film is Laurie’s art work, not the catalog of the kimono. 

As you see on the photo from the film, just the neck-up or shoulder-up image is focused. But I think that the whole image, which is likely to be ignored, is necessary even if we just focus on the part. I made the doll to put on Japanese tabi socks and zori sandals. As the silicone doll weighed about 45kg, it took three persons to let the doll to sit on its heels. Although we could not identify the doll sitting on its heels in the film, I can steadily imagine that the doll is sitting on its heels, because of the natural tilt angle of its neck and natural shadow of neck on its shoulder.

I think that this aesthetic feeling is similar as the aesthetic values of traditional Japanese art, especially seen in the Japanese tea ceremony. I cannot forget the words from my teacher of the tea ceremony in Japan: “Invisible points are more important than visible points.” About 420 years ago, when the founder of the tea ceremony, Rikyu Sen, pursued the most beautiful morning glory flowers, he picked all of them off the trees in the garden, just without one morning glory in the tea room. The real beauty of one morning glory in the tea room could be acquired after his tremendous effort.

In other instances, James Cameron, a movie director of Titanic, partly re-created the full Titanic ship, but he didn’t shoot all the images from the re-created Titanic ship. I think that he wanted to pursue the real art in his film.
For completing the Art Work, and converting Beauty to Art, I realize “Invisible points are more important than visible points.” 

Right after I emailed Laurie Simmons that I was impressed by the film “Geisha Song”, she graciously emailed me back. I feel that we were able to communicate together though this production.

The exhibition of Laurie Simmons, including this short film, is covered by many newspapers and magazines.
The New York Times
http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/21/artifacts-laurie-simmonss-love-doll/

The doll that three persons could let to sit on the heels

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