recent & current

text: meri nikula

Chris Jones studio Kura

entering a space
november 2013


Entering a space, its atmosphere envelops you. In this one hundred years old Japanese silo, even more than usual - walking through its door opens another dimension. Like a well-kept secret, like the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland, there is an invitation for discovery. Proportions can change here. Your senses are challenged with the diagonal lines and the richness of all the details, when you let yourself get allured into their miniature discussions. Every little inch has the feel of handmade, a feel of meaning, a feel of whispers from a time none of us has witnessed. This space has it's own aesthetics: though there is that rural, practical side to it, there is another perspective too: it is almost as if this was a skillfully carved container for something very special to be stored, something precious and rare to be kept safe. And suddenly you realize that you have become that special object, that precious piece of creation. The silo envelops you in it's own dreams which lull you to a state of awe and silence.

Chris Jones Studio Kura
This particular time of the year, there is yet another aspect to this warehouse as well: in the extreme heat of Japanese summer, this space heats up, becoming something close to a sauna. It is very hot and humid, no air moves through the space. These circumstances call for lightness: the lightness of thoughts, the lightness of materials, the lightness of textures. I arrive when Christopher Jones, the residence artist at Studio Kura using this special location for his exhibition, has already been working for some weeks. I meet him, in his sand colored cotton clothing, just finishing his installation. He blends into the space, as if he truly has become a part of it. Looking around me, I am first surprised by the tiny objects almost hidden in the space. It looks quite empty at a first glance. But then it happens: the miniature sculptures wink at me in somewhat mischievous manner. They invite you to get really close, to really sharpen your vision, to be present and focused. They do not shout, just like this old building doesn't, but can reveal something exhilarating if you give your full attention and enter into the dialogue that is being offered.
Chris Jones Art Japan
There is something beautifully non-invasive about Christopher's work in this space. Each little object leaves you to decide how much or how little you wish them to reveal. What could almost be seen as mere decorative elements, turn out to be miniature sceneries, perspective shifters, sudden comments on the Japanese everyday life or even newly found insects. What do YOU see? The meanings seem to be clear and well thought of, and yet, you cannot really be sure - and that is exactly what draws you back, to look yet another time, just a little closer. And some are impossible to reach physically, they are there like a landscape from an airplane: your vision is clear yet there is a decided distance you cannot cross. They are very present, still, giving the intimacy of other objects more meaning. They blend in with the lines and structures of the old silo, respecting its uniqueness and just adding their own point of view in a playful, gentle way.

Chris Jones collage

I have been invited to perform in this space, for the exhibition opening. It is clear that I do not wish to disturb the sensitive aesthetics here, so I will use my voice only, a simple vocal will be perfect. I feel very connected with this old building that has it's own life, like a living being, and the worlds Christopher has created within it. From Christopher's miniature realities that inhabit the silo, which in it's turn holds and welcomes us, I continue expanding the space yet a little more: I tune in with my Nordic sense of space, the vastness, the clean air, the fresh waters. My voice turns into a natural element that soothes and refreshes as I Intuitively open up these walls, to bring in some relief from the heat. When I improvise, I follow my voice and let it move freely. I use all kinds of sounds, I don't discriminate. I record layers upon layers, some distant voices, some close, intimate and textured, others fragile. Afterwards, someone tells me that she felt my voice falling like a cool mist on her face and she felt refreshed, as if in a forest. In my own way, I too have managed to stretch the boundaries of our perceived reality.   

meri nikula

What we create together here has it's own flow. Christopher's art with it's quirky observations in a playful collaboration with the old silo's fascinating, unique character and my voice, becoming the air that moves through it all; these stories of intuition, tales of innovation, reflections of the past and the unwritten present that we keep discovering, from moment to moment. A brief moment in time this all comes together, takes a couple of deep breaths, and dissolves again. We leave the heat, the miniature works of art move to another location, my voice flies to somewhere else again. The silo will keep this encounter as one more whisper hidden in its walls. The silence will grow deeper when the winter comes. I wish to return again one day.