Thanks to all this, I have been managing to keep up my activity as a popular artist, but I have never been complacent about my situation. Instead, I have constantly been thinking how I might become the mirror that reflects this era and have been doing everything in my power to simultaneously execute every and all such ideas.
I mentioned how my company has faced the possibility of bankruptcy in the video about abandoning my film project, yet we have in fact been facing this very risk at the end of every single month—it’s a routine, and a terrifying one at that. I have always been pouring whatever funds I have into every imaginable project.
Needless to say, in the past few months of the pandemic, not just me but numerous company owners around the world must have been going through tough times, scrambling to stay afloat.
So to come back to the question of what an artist is, if I were to posit that they must be a living proof of an era, then vividly depicting my suffering and struggles in this present chaos is also a job I must execute. And so I forge ahead with my endeavors while literally making a fool of myself for all to see.
These images show the production of my large-scale sculpture in progress. I have been funding this production entirely on my own. The work is being made at #WallaWallaFoundry in Washington State in the U.S., and it had been scheduled to be completed in May. Now, its completion has be postponed until this fall.
When plans get upended and the future becomes unpredictable, what choices should an artist make? How shall they choose to live?
In the future, after my death, it will become clear whether all this commotion was for something worthwhile, or whether I was merely an artist full of foolishness.
I am 58 now, so I wouldn't live another 40 years at the most; you’ll be able to examine the result relatively soon. So in the meantime, please continue speculating as you wish and wait for the verdict.
6 days ago
Yesterday, I posted a video about how things led to the discontinuation of the production of my feature film, Jellyfish Eyes Part 2, and received a variety of reactions. Some were of course condolences for the fact I had to abandon the project. Others were from puzzled people in the art market asking whether the artworks they have been waiting for would actually get produced, or what would happen to the values of my artwork. Artnet.com @artnet has also written up about it, expressing concerns.
On the other hand, some have reached out with ideas and kind offers to explore the possibilities of keeping the production of the film going. All in all, I have received such tremendous reactions, which warms my heart. Thank you so much.
There’s an idea I would like to share with you all here. It has to do with the question of what an artist’s job is. I, for one, believe that it has solely to do with how, after they are dead, they manage to leave behind works and a way of life that could be deemed as iconic of their era.
As a Japanese artist, I was fortunate to be given a chance to make my debut in the Western art scene; the American art scene in particular welcomed me warmly. Several curators and critics kindly pushed my back, which allowed me to have exhibitions in museums, which in turn earned me enthusiastic fans, who were often racial minorities like myself. A lot of children visited my exhibitions as new museum audiences. I have truly been lucky.
This spring, I streamed a series of cooking show of a sort on Instagram Live. I’m sure those who watched them were utterly confused, but I was trying to buoy my own thoroughly sunken feelings through these streamings.
With the sudden swoop of COVID-19 pandemic, my company faced bankruptcy and I had to give up on a number of projects, the most symbolic of which being the production of my sci-fi feature film, Jellyfish Eyes Part 2: Mahashankh.
For nine long years, I had persevered! It was a film that was to realize my childish dreams! The enormous budget I poured into this project, as well as my tenacious persistence, put a constant and tremendous stress on my company’s operation for the past nine years. But at the same time, I was able to endure various hardships because I had this project.
Faced with the current predicament, however, I was persuaded by both my business consultant and tax attorney that I must, simply must try and drastically reduce our business tax by filing the film’s production cost as tax-exempt expenditure. To that end, I am going to produce and release a series of videos to publicly announce the discontinuation of the film’s production. (To be clear, this is an entirely legitimate procedure—I’m not trying to evade tax!)
These videos will be released against the backdrop of our struggle to avoid an economic catastrophe, but perhaps it may have a cathartic effect on the viewers/my followers to see the story of stupid Murakami’s failure. Long story short, I’m a silly human being for whom the moment of bliss is when I am thinking my truly childish sci-fi thoughts.
I don’t know how many episodes the series will end up being, but a series it will be, so please come along with me on this journey for a little while.