Rathmines gallery highlights Japanese problems


The Mart Gallery in Rathmines is currently hosting an exhibition by German based film-makers  Nina Fischer and Maroan el Sani.

The show features two short visual pieces, both set a million miles from Dublin in Japan, but in the words of the organisers, “The works that have grown from specific sites, events and communities can also have universal consequences that resonate and can affect the daily lives of people in distant and far off places on the other side of the planet.”

And, resonate they do.

Narita Field Trip is the first piece in the exhibition and follows two students who visit a farming community locked in a legal struggle with a neighbouring airport. The airport aims to expand into the farmer’s land, evict them and destroy their livelihood, all of which the farmers rather predictably oppose.

The film has a certain lo-fi home-quality feel. This lends a sense of intimacy and ultimately manipulates the viewer into sympathising with the small farmers who live in such uncertain circumstances. One naturally sides with the farmers against the menacing, overbearing and faceless corporation. In this sense, while the film focuses on the specific, it can be viewed in a broader context, and without too much effort can be seen as an allegory for the progress of industry at the expense of  local communities worldwide.

While this all sounds like old hat the issues are dealt with with deftness and subtlety. The artists exhibit a refreshing reserve and one never gets the sense of an agenda or ideology being pushed; they allow enough room for the audience to reach their own conclusion relatively naturally.

In the second piece, Spelling Dystopia, there is an even more pronounced sense of objectivity; this piece has an emotional detachment to the extent that an inhuman, supernatural energy pervades early on and lingers throughout. The content further enforces this: there are virtually no people on-screen apart from an interesting aerial shot with school children. Through voiceover, we learn of the disturbing events which happened on Hashima Island.

This piece, stylistically, is more interesting than the first. It uses a split-screen stretched across the entirety of one of the walls. The action moves between the screens and while there is a wealth of information and visuals to process the eye follows it all naturally.

The two works together provoke quite a strong effect, and raise interesting questions on human nature, societal behaviour and our ability – or inability – to live amiably with our fellow-man. Yet, the artists don’t presume to answer any of the questions they raise, and that is much to the benefit of their art.

The exhibition runs until October 26th.


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