ryan takaba

49 to a new

Growing up in Hawai`i, I spent much of my childhood observing my grandparent’s attentiveness to their landscape, a residence built upon ancient lava rock.  My memory of this place holds a mythology of its own, a vast landscape imbued with beauty and power, but in reality, it was a humble garden outside a 1940’s bungalow.  My recently deceased grandmother who up until her 90’s, visited my grandfather every morning through daily prayer, a prayer involving lighting a candle, burning incense, and arranging fresh flowers.  Her dedication and belief makes me believe that her process transcends habit into ritual, and ritual into truth.

Although my immediate family and I were not dedicated to a set of religious beliefs, we attended Buddhist ceremonies and rituals out of respect for the family.  One of these rituals is the 49th day service.  After a family member passes, the family attends a wake, a burial service, and a ceremony to commemorate the 49th day.  It is believed that once the person passes their spirit wanders in the dark, moving to a new place every 7 days.

My work examines the private altar, death rites, and mourning rituals.  What defines a ritual and not a habit is a question I have been asking with this work.  My practice is performative and durational, attending to the living altar through the length of a show.  The altar is comprised of porcelain forms that function as flower vases, candle holders, and incense burners.  These works will live on the wall, transforming in composition as each piece is used daily.  The imagery for this work begin as compositions in a state of rest.  As the vases are filled, as the candle is lit, and as the incense burns, these works will move and change from stable compositions to unpredictable, fluid images.  The flower will begin to wilt, the wax will melt, and the incense smoke will stain the wall creating imagery that transports the viewer from one place to another.  "Landscape is not found in the nature of things but in the mind's eye.  It is a construct by means of perception"  This quote from the book titled "Why is the landscape beautiful?" has informed my questions on where the spirit is moving during these 49 days.

Using Format