Oscar Oiwa (visual artist) received an ACC Fellowship in 2001 to travel from Japan to the United States to meet curators and artists, and observe contemporary art activities. He shares an excerpt from his website, “a drawing series in progress, concerning these days of personal reflection, living in New York, the center of the pandemic.”
Suddenly, life has changed. I have stopped taking the subway, going to my studio, walking around the city, seeing movies at the theater, and meeting up with my friends. I spend my days in quarantine, going outside only to shop for food or to get a little fresh air.
Projects and trips have all been postponed. The city has become the new epicenter of the pandemic and life has been made more difficult for all of its inhabitants. Many people have lost their jobs and are getting desperate about paying bills. News from the world outside is far from encouraging. Entire countries have closed their borders. The US presidential response in itself has been a disaster.
I think about what I can do to remain as mentally creative as usual while stuck in my Manhattan apartment. God gave me the gift of transforming feelings into visual art. And using this power, I have started to make a new series of drawings: an imaginary trip in the midst of life under quarantine. The result is like a diary of insights about my past, my present daily life, and the future.
My table, New York, 2020, digital drawing, 56 x 76 cm/ 22 x 30 inches
This little table has become the center of my life. If I can no longer travel every day to my studio, I think the best I can do now is to stay quiet and wait until the thunderstorm has passed. The outbreak in the city is expected to reach its apex in a week, and we still have a long path to traverse. But now after three weeks in quarantine, this irregular life has become the new normal, and I am feeling less stressed.
Tsutenkaku, Osaka, 2020, digital drawing, 56 x 76 cm/ 22 x 30 inches
I was supposed to travel to Osaka at the end of March, to have a meeting with a museum curator and prepare for a show that would take place at the end of year. I was thinking about preparing a series of works with a local theme, and hoped to also spend the trip researching the history and culture of the area. However, after the coronavirus outbreak hit Japan, I needed to give up that trip too.
Showa Nihon, 2020, digital drawing, 56 x 76 cm/ 22 x 30 inches
Quarantine is a good time to see movies from the internet. I love to watch old Japanese black & white movies from the 50´s and 60´s, the golden era of Japanese cinema. At the time, the country was recovering from World War II and TVs were not yet accessible for all. Compared to technology these days, it is simple but I can feel the team creativity behind the camera. These movies are like black & white drawings, how the simpler the medium, the more difficult it is to produce a good work.
Grantee Reflections is a platform for ACC alumni to share their collective voice as an international community of artists, scholars, and cultural ambassadors. This is a cultural exchange of words, image, video, and sound from around the world. While our bodies cannot travel, our minds can still meet.