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Ikigai (生き甲斐) is a Japanese concept that means "a reason for being." In other words, doing something that you are good at, passionate about and what the world needs.
My name is Ulemj Glamuzina, I am a Mongolian born visual artist, based in Tauranga. Over a decade ago, I was fortunate enough to complete my post graduate studies in education and linguistics in Hokkaido, Japan under Monbukagakusho, a Japanese government scholarship. This presented me with the opportunity to learn Japanese language and culture, which helped me to grow my appreciation of Japan.
Over the years, as I began to further understand myself and my motivations, it became clear that creating art is an effective way of communication for me, and in fact Art is my calling, my IKIGAI.
This year, thanks to the generosity and support of Future Learning Solutions, I was able to realise my dream project, running four successful workshops in Tauranga as well as exhibiting a solo show at Studio 541, Auckland. The IKIGAI project attracted not only the local community but also a considerable number of Japanese public in New Zealand.
For the exhibition, I have created works that bring to the surface my memories and emotions, evoked by different people and experiences from my time in Japan. My work is closely connected to the themes of belonging, acceptance, and communication. Through my work, I express my feelings, and strive to connect and evoke a response in the imagination of the viewer. This goes beyond what is happening at the surface (real or imagined).
Some of my work can be viewed at https://www.instagram.com/ulemjart/
Article by Ulemj Glamuzina, 2020 New Zealand Japan Exchange Programme (NZJEP) Grant Recipient
Photo (Left): Ulemj Glamuzina, Visual Artist and (Right): A doll made in one of Ulemj's workshops in Tauranga
Photo (Left): students at work during a workshop (Right): a selection of finished dolls made during workshops.
Exchange between New Zealand Composers and Japanese Performers
I have been very fortunate to receive funding assistance from the NZJEP in 2020 to undertake a project connecting New Zealand and Japan during a very precarious international period. This welcomed support has aided in connecting musicians in both nations during the pandemic and has culminated in Japan’s finest traditional and new music musicians recording traditional works, and works by New Zealand composers.
The recordings have taken a video format and were recorded in the beautiful Ebila Hall in Tokyo in November 2020. The videos serve as a way to document the valuable work and talents of all involved artists and will also be able to serve as artistic interest and educational tools, for those interested in Japanese culture, and contemporary music practice in Japan.
The featured performers are all masters of their instruments, and included Nanae Yoshimura (Koto) and Mayumi Miyata (Sho), both of these masters of Japanese traditional instruments have assisted in raising the profile of their respective instruments in traditional and also in contemporary settings. The project included Nanae’s performance of Chidori, a 19th century work for Koto-uta (singing accompanied by Koto) Mayumi Miyata performs Banshikicho no Choshi for this project. This traditional piece for Sho dates from the 10th century and formed part of the collection of Gagaku court music pieces. Nanae and Mayumi were joined by their long-term collaborators Tosiya Suzuki (Recorders), and Yoshie Ueno (Flutes). Both of these virtuosi are leaders for their instruments, both with historical and contemporary repertoire. In the videos, Yoshie is featured playing both the Piccolo, and Flute, and Tosiya is featured on Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass, and Great Bass Recorders. The wide range of instruments featured in this project form an exciting palette of sounds and are also highly visually aresting.
A diverse group of New Zealand composers contributed new musical works for the Japanese musicians to rehearse and record. The process of learning the pieces was assisted through remote Zoom connections and created a nourishing and exciting interaction between the Japanese and New Zealand musicians. The connections established during this project will also be able to be sustained and drawn upon again in the future.
The event was video and audio recorded by Takuma Kamaishi, a wonderful videographer in Tokyo. Chris Watson from SOUNZ the Centre of New Zealand Music was the editor of the film material, who took the raw material and masterfully crafted the videos that we’re able to share.
The videos of all the works appear on SOUNZ’s Facebook page, as well as their Vimeo and YouTube pages. The following link is the trailer for this project, with a small preview of the New Zealand works involved.
Click here to view SOUNZ Centre for New Zealand Music Facebook page
Click here to view on YouTube
Article Written by Dylan Lardelli, 2020 NZJEP Grant Recipient
An Exhibition: Ring of Fire: Sentient Soul
by Kumiko Jacolin and Dennitza Gabrakova, Victoria University of Wellington
At the Te Auaha Gallery (NZ Institute of Creativity), we had an opportunity to present Kumiko’s ceramic works at the Ring of Fire: Sentient Soul during September 1st -14th 2020. This included events of introducing Japanese culture, tea-ceremony and Japanese-NZ cultural fusion themed music. To reflect Kumiko’s dissertation theme “New Zealand and Japanese ceramic exchange: James Greig (1936-1986)”: 1) historical art films by Peter Coates, 2) tea ceremony demonstration by Satomi Takahashi, 3) music by Salina Fisher 4) poetry readings were organized during the event.
Dennitza and Kumiko together enjoyed conceptualizing the vibrancy of Japan-New Zealand exchanges through various media: Japanese ceramic history, descended from Jōmon era, the tea-ceremony aesthetics in chawan teabowl floating amidst the nature of New Zealand were key display concepts. Translating these elements into the exhibition space – staging a Japanese garden with a tearoom, arranging ceramic spheres with cracks of imperfection and kintsugi (joinery by lacquer with gold decoration) interspersed with references to New Zealand nature – was an excellent opportunity to bring in creative spirituality in the experience of New Zealand-Japan exchange.
Japanese ambassador, Hiroyasu Kobayashi (at the time of the exhibition in September 2020) gave an introduction speech at the opening and participated as a guest in the tea ceremony. During the event, the exhibition was visited by the French ambassador, ex-New Zealand ambassadors to Japan and to France, potters, academics, and students, who enjoyed immersion through reading poems and experiencing Japanese tea at the exhibition space.
We created a “space” to absorb different cultures by showing attention to processes of healing “the wounds” of cultural misunderstandings and the imperatives of communication, inspired by the idea of “plasticity,” suggested by Catherine Malabou, a French philosopher. The plasticity of clay not only fused with the display of ceramics but engaged the guests’ minds.
This exhibition substituted the previously planned visit to Japan, cancelled due to Covid-19. Several last-minute changes were enforced including the schedule, the limitation for number of people at one time. Without the NZJEP’s generous funding, the exhibition and the publication of a catalogue would not have been accomplished.
Dennitza and Kumiko feel at home in Aotearoa New Zealand now. With Dennitza’s cultural experience in Asia and Kumiko, a Japanese person with long term residencies in Europe, the venue was an affirmation of diversity.
A chawan (tea-bowl) handed over to guests from a host enhanced the experience of the exhibition space as a stage for cultural encounters. Consequently, we have communicated aspects of Japanese culture beyond language opening a “space” to emulate the “sentient soul” that James Greig has aspired for.
Article written by Kumiko Jacolin and Dennitza Gabrakova, 2019 NJZEP Grant Recipients
Photo(Left): Satomi Takahashi performing a Tea Ceremony with Mr Kobayashi Hiroyasu, Japanese Ambassador to New Zealand (at the time of
this exhibition). Photo (Right): Ms Olivia Kirikiri, Producer(L), Te Auaha NZ Institute of Creativity,: Ms Kumiko Jacolin (Middle) and Dr. Dennitza Gabrakova (R).
Photos (Left and middle): Artwork at Te Auaha Gallery. Photo (Right): Ms Kumiko Jacolin(L); with Ms Sylvaine Carta-Le Vert, the French Ambassador
to New Zealand(R) at the exhibition venue of Te Auaha Gallery.
Photos (Left): Spherical objects to represent ‘sentient soul’ and (Right): Kintsugi Diversity