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One Year On – A Force Of Nature, By Force Of Will Power – The Thing I’ll Be Doing For The Rest Of My Life

A year ago Matt began editing the footage from Nagoya, of the trawler being moved onto the land, through the night and across the park – 5 days to edit, then straight back to Japan on the 5th of August, to install onto 40 tablets in Japanese and English, train invigilators, meet press, thank everyone involved and open to the public on 10th August 2013.

The weather in Japan was like it has been here in Brighton, for the last few weeks, except much more intense and humid, so I have been reminded of Japan on a daily basis – moving through the days drinking Pocari Sweat, gallons of cold green tea provided by the Art Lab girls, water and then around I would go again.

From meeting, to drawing, to port site visit, to the park, to rehearsing the script, to writing, to meeting, to bed and on and on. A rare and privileged moment for me, one of total focus and determination in my life, where gaps close up and people come rushing towards something.

This was not an emergency, this was not a disaster, this was our work.

This was something we constructed, an attempt at responding to something unprecedented, at articulating our position in it all.

We are left changed forever but the boat is gone and the work is not there. There is the film, there are photographs, the story, the blog, a few drawings and all the people that made it happen. And sometimes it feels like I imagined the whole thing.


Enquiries in our work have expanded and are forever changed too – we talk about it all the time, what people do or can do, what work can be, what our relationship is to what is going on in the rest of the world and how we should tackle this responsibility as artists.

The Japan Tsunami of 2011 was a force of nature, The Thing I’ll Be Doing For The Rest Of My Life, a force of will made by people.

We take these memories with us into the future and believe even more, how, when we think we know what might happen, something is always there to pull the carpet out and, how, someone can always be there, watching out for you.


Living Will – An Unplanned Plan

before and afterThe date was set – 7th November to 11th November.

Her chattels, her jewels, were removed for us before she was interred – her name plate, her life ring and her fibre glass fish lids are all being sent back to us in the UK.

And so the boat has been destroyed, on the spot, where we all pushed and pulled and craned and drove her to in Nagoya. I blinked and she was gone.

It is the 8th of November, the first day of destruction and she has already gone.  I’m not sure if she was cut or smashed or what.  It looks like she was bitten and crushed.

One of the many things going through my mind now is this – that we or rather I don’t look back at a time before I was here and mourn this, but I do look to a time in the future when I will not be here and I mourn in advance for this.

With the boat or more correctly at last I should call her a fishing trawler, we didn’t mourn a time before she was here, but we will miss her not being here and I worry about this. I can already feel the ache has begun.

Are we afraid of a space that we cannot imagine, that emptiness means all that has happened will fade and is no longer important.  It will fade, we will all fade and disappear, but the importance is not gone.

I couldn’t choose exactly what her demise would be, I had wishes, a living will if you like, but as with most deaths the exact conditions and circumstances of that moment are unknown. Those in charge dealing with the transition do the best job that could possibly be done.  Just as with a birth plan or any plan, plans rarely go exactly to plan, but another course of actions occurs, an unplanned plan.

“I am really sad ” Taka said today and so am I, but I am filled with an incredible joy too.

More connections and emotions have been bred.  And more confirmation that in this world where all things will come to pass that we are all in this together somehow, Blast Theory with a tremendous group of people now from Japan and that makes our lives fantastic.

Always grateful to Aichi Triennale 2013.

Take A Moment – We Are Putting The Boat To Bed

So the fate of the vast ship, Kyotokumaru, has eventually been decided by the people of Kesennuma. It is to be destroyed.


It seems right somehow that this incredible hulk of metal, which stands as testament in some ways to the phenomenal natural disaster and loss of life should go.

But what seems more right to me is that the people of the city decided by voting.

It is a gigantic focal point, to channel the feelings and shock erupting from the event, it is a monument for what was left behind, for what had literally and metaphorically been shifted, for those of us too far away to see the affects for ourselves or to really feel them affect our daily lives. And for visitors, pilgrims to the city.

The image of the ship, along with video of the sea so slowly, but too quickly creeping in and then churning up buildings and streets and homes and cars and trees and people, are for me the iconic images of the disaster. And one of the images that stayed with Matt after he had visited the region, was the ship, which of course was in our minds as inspiration in part for our project.

Not having visited the ship, seeing photos and film, it reminds me of  the site of 9/11, after the Twin Towers had fallen, and the few massive forks of metal, like a gothic castle ruin or gigantic mangled crowns remain.

It is Dorothy’s house from The Wizard Of Oz, lifted up by a tornado and landed somewhere else, where nothing is as it was before.

The dam broke and then the sink drained and this is how things were left.

Internal organs rearranged, sand banked, left high and now dry, sucked up, spat out and then gone.

So how do we put our boat Eight Prosper Circle to bed?  How shall she be retired?


We are used to making complex work, that is sometimes difficult to achieve, but we are not used to making such a huge physical piece – that you make, leave behind and know you will never see it again.

This is new to us.

It is loss, a feeling of premature bereavement, which often happens after making work.  There is a massive surge of energy, sometimes sustained over months and even years, with groups of people, a community gathered around an idea, then it is here and it is gone.  In this work the effort and engagement and faith has literally been immense.

Like the Daruma doll – you fill in one eye at the start of a project, make a wish for something to be completed successfully and when it is, you fill in the second eye, burn it at a shrine and say your thanks and goodbye.

Do we take this approach, fill in the second eye with a pen, burn it and that was that, or do we crush it as small as it can go and put the waste into a dump somewhere?  Or do we break it into its’ component materials and recycle it as best as we can?

I had hoped that someone could use it, take it, have it – for whatever they want it for – I would rather this, I would rather all those materials and all that work in the making of the ship lives on.  I guess I don’t want it to die, her life doesn’t seem over to me yet.

Maybe it is my western learning about endings that is coming through and I am trying to reconcile these feelings, with the world of this work.  I understand it has served its’ purpose, to bring people together in a way that real disasters do, to do tremendous things together.  It has made me re-visit my capabilities and areas of knowledge or lack of knowledge.  It has reminded me of why we make work, how there are people everywhere wanted to do things, to make things and change and how in our

Knowing when something is done and how to end it appropriately, that is the task at hand.

A lot of this is outside of my control, but within my trust.  Now she is entrusted to others for a suitable removal.  I will not see her go, I will hear about it, read about it, maybe we can make some film or photos of it, I will draw and write about her transition – if I can I will try to persuade Aoki or Taka to do this for me, if they get on site of wherever it is that she will be destroyed.  And a giant whole will remain.

Yasunori will send us her name painted in wood and some of her significant parts – we are thinking if there is something else to say or show here.

Of course there is the film let’s not forget which tells the whole story and which you can watch when you visit the boat in the park.  This is arguably the work itself, the boat as a very large protagonist, in the film, which so far has been seen by over 1700 people.


And then there are the people, a few who we knew before, a lot who we never knew before, some of who are now friends and all who are very dear to us.

Ah what to do?

I’ve never been so sentimental about a piece of work before in this way, our work  is ethereal, temporal,conversations and stories, mostly without physical structures, built in the air, sets of experiences that you can feel, that don’t manifest themselves this way, until now that is.  Of course there are traces and offshoots that stay around in different physical manifestations of our other work, but nothing quite like this.

It’s extremely difficult and confusing

What would you do?

And if you know anyone in Japan, ideally Nagoya or Aichi who would make a good home for her let me know urgently, as it’s not too late yet.

She has had a few loving owners and a lot of lovers.

This is not the end

Thank you

Artists` Statement by Matt Adams – Press Day





2013年7月 マット・アダムス

In the tsunami of 2011 the damage was so extreme that, at times, it seems like the laws of physics were overwhelmed. Yachts lay on bridges. Pleasure boats came to rest on the roofs of buildings. On a research trip to Kesennuma, I stood and gazed up at a 330 ton ship that had traveled half a mile inland.

In the hours after a major disaster it is the general public who are the heroes. Before the emergency services arrive, while the journalists are absent, men and woman who themselves have narrowly escaped harm save lives. They comfort the injured and dying. They distribute food and water. The usual systems of order and control may have been destroyed but people self organize and take action.

I interviewed fishermen who had lived through the tsunami. They talked about the hours immediately after the disaster. They searched for relatives, they established shelters, they found food. And then they began the process of recovery. Mr Nakazato from Funakoshi told me about his work to continue the fishing tradition by training young people in his village. He looked to the future and said, “This is the thing I’ll be doing for the rest of my life”.

The UK and Japan are both island nations with long and proud nautical traditions. So much so that the vessel is sometimes the symbol of the country itself. This work brings a crowd together to take a trawler – Hachieimaru (the Eight Prosper Circle) – on a journey. With muscle power, communal strength and common purpose our friends will bring the boat to a new place.

 Matt ADAMS 

July, 2013

Resting Tremor – Text – Emergency – Earthquake Warning

Today all the mobile phones starting going off in the Aichi Art Centre with emergency messages.

An earthquake, in a minutes time.

I was very worried. What should I do? What was the right thing to do? Should I get down, stand in a door way. There was no table to get under and my legs didn’t seem very helpful to me anyway at that moment.

No one really said much until a few minutes later, when it appeared that the trouble has passed us by or that 2.3 on the rictor scale was something we couldn’t feel. That different parts of the city were more or less stable depending on the earth and the architecture.

Apparently they are happening all the time in Japan just so mildly that they are mostly imperceptible. This didn’t make me feel reassured, neither did the casual mention of tsunami and 50 centimetres of water.

I have what’s called “Resting Tremor” in my hands and in my legs a little. Most of the time you can’t see it, but it’s there all the time, a shaking, that wont go away. It occurs in many different ways, my favourite is peas jumping off a fork, my least favourite is giving a talk and rustling the papers. I have coping mechanisms which nobody notices except me. And you can see it in my video of the dying cicada below:

The last time I was in an earthquake was in Tokyo in 2005.

I thought someone was shaking my bed and I didn’t want to open my eyes, as I couldn’t imagine what sort of person would be standing there, it felt so violent and why would someone be doing this?

Eventually I did open my eyes and out of the window I could see a low level sway,almost like a vertical heat haze up the sides of some of the buildings.

A friend I was working with rushed down to reception in his underwear and everyone looked at him like he was crazy.

He’d never experienced anything like this before either.

Local Lagoon Guys – Pleasure Boating

“We go every Tuesday and Thursday if it’s fine.

I go to the window, look at the sky and then give a call around.”


They were never fishermen, I’m not sure they ever went in a speed boat. Maybe one of them was in the navy.

6 months to build a boat, depending on the cost and what else has to be bought and how much time they are allowed out to play.


This is for pleasure, like children playing at being grown ups, grown ups playing at cruising the ocean.

It was great to meet this group of friends hanging out – they have something in common, something brought them together – it’s very simple really.

You can find them every Tuesday and Thursday when the weather is fine, down at Hove Lagoon, in Brighton, England.


Thinking On Your Feet – 7 Breaths To Make a Decision ?

2 days to go now before the Aichi Triennale opens in Nagoya to the public and only 1 day before the preview.

I am back in Japan waiting.

All the decisions have been made now for the film.
Trying to decide in the edit what really matters for the work now, at this stage which way to go, which way to act and now this moment and then this moment. Not a unique challenge I realise but it’s important to us.

It’s in Japanese and English. No subtitles just voice and pictures. We hope it goes down well.

I feel I spend a lot of time honing practises, trying to make better decisions, quicker, in some areas of my life and in others, I hardly spend any effort at all. As I write this it seems strange to admit it but I know it’s true.

Some people have meetings and work standing up, I like this, thinking on your feet approach, although it’s very hard to persuade others to try it out. Walter Murch editor of Apocolypse Now and the Godfather trilogy stands up to edit, to stay a bit freer, more agile in his thinking. `

I once read in a book about the samurai, that in the words of the ancients:

“One should make his decisions within the space of seven breaths. If discrimination is long, it will spoil. When matters are done leisurely, seven out of ten will turn out badly. A warrior is a person who does things quickly.”

Sometimes I try this, I like this, it conversely slows me down and makes me focus, and seven breaths can seem like a very long time, or certainly enough time often. I’m not promoting haste over valuable consideration, I’m not suggesting fools rushing in where angels fear to tread. But it’s just a thought.

On the other hand research has sometimes shown that boards and panels have decided which nuclear weapon to buy in a few minutes and taken hours to decide which tables and chairs to buy. No one solution fits all, no two situations the same and when it comes down to it, it seems to depend on something else, or usually whole combinations of things. Nothing surprising here I realise but what I came across recently struck me.

And one more thing – the brain has already decided before we physically react seconds earlier. And what can we do about this as we develop, as we make our decisions?

The Haka Powhiri – The Connection

Sarah our assistant, from New Zealand and America, became strangely and repeatedly moved when logging the footage from the project for the film.
Then it hit her – the haka, the powhiri, pulling people safely to shore in their canoes, welcoming visitors and remembering those that have gone before.

I am more familiar with the Haka that the All Blacks, rugby players do, before a game or that is performed for the Queen when she visits.

See below a detailed description of what happens and what it means, followed by the words to a Ka Mate Haka and a surprisingly powerful Haka at a funeral by the New Zealand Defence Force.

The haka pöwhiri can begin the welcoming of manuhiri (visitors) onto a marae or special place. It is performed just after the karanga (calls). It can also be used to discuss local marae protocol and kawa that the students may be familiar with.

At the start of a pöwhiri, a woman from the host side performs the karanga to indicate to the manuhiri that they should move forward onto the marae. A woman from the manuhiri then returns the karanga as the manuhiri make their way forward. These two karanga weave a spiritual rope, which will now be used to pull the waka of the manuhiri, with its paddlers and passengers, onto the marae.
After the women performing the karanga have woven the rope, the haka pöwhiri pulls the canoe of the manuhiri forward. “Töia Mai” offers a powerful description of the waka being pulled up and, for this reason, it is a favourite at pöwhiri.
The meaning of the haka pöwhiri includes the pulling up of everything the manuhiri bring with them – their histories, languages, ancestors, and everything else that makes them who they are.
As with all haka, the whole body is used in this chant, and it is performed energetically. Consult with the school community, whänau, and local marae/iwi for support for this haka pöwhiri. This haka pöwhiri can be used by the whole school in a real context to welcome parents and whänau, visiting dignitaries, or other visitors.

These are the words of the Ka Mate haka which generally opens with a set of 5 preparatory instructions shouted out by the leader before the whole team joins in:

Leader: Ringa pakia! Slap the hands against the thighs!
Uma tiraha! Puff out the chest.
Turi whatia! Bend the knees!
Hope whai ake! Let the hip follow!
Waewae takahia kia kino! Stomp the feet as hard as you can!
Leader: Ka mate, ka mate I die, I die,
Team: Ka ora’ Ka ora’ I live, I live
Leader: Ka mate, ka mate I die, I die,
Team: Ka ora Ka ora ” I live, I live,
All: Tēnei te tangata pūhuruhuru This is the hairy man
Nāna i tiki mai whakawhiti te rā …Who caused the sun to shine again for me
A Upane! Ka Upane! Up the ladder, Up the ladder
Upane Kaupane” Up to the top
Whiti te rā,! The sun shines!
Hī! Rise!

Crash In Spain – The Neighbours Rush In

Yesterday I was perversely delighted to see a nod to the people who got there before the emergency services to try to help victims of the awful train accident just outside Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

The Guardian 29th July:

“Claims were made of delays in co-ordinating the rescue operation. The daily El País said it had obtained reports compiled by the emergency services that showed it took two hours to declare the state of alert needed to mobilise help from other provinces.

The inhabitants of the neighbourhood of Angrois, where the crash took place, have been widely praised in Spain for their courageous response to the disaster. Without regard for their own safety, they poured on to the tracks, smashing in the windows of the carriages with rocks to pull out the injured, dead and dying.

But the paper said their efforts were offset by official delays. A mobile communications centre, vital for co-ordinating the work of the rescue services, took 46 minutes to reach the scene, El País said.